Sangre de Cristo makes it to the State Championship game

Sangre de Cristo’s Cole Christensen (23) sneaks in behind the defense for a free look at the net. Christensen and company will play for the 1A State Championship on Saturday night against DeBeque./Photo courtesy of Vibrant Valley

PUEBLO – In the 1A class both Sangre de Cristo basketball squads made it to the State Tournament being played at Colorado State University – Pueblo. Sangre de Cristo’s girls fell to South Baca 37-34 on Friday in their second loss of the 2019 State Tournament. The boys were able to hold of Merino 62-53 to punch their ticket to the Championship game on Saturday night.

On day one the Sangre de Cristo girls couldn’t get past Fleming, putting the T-Birds in the consolation bracket for the remainder of the tournament. Sangre de Cristo would meet No. 2 South Baca who was upset by Haxtun in Thursday’s action. Haxtun has since advanced to the championship game. Against South Baca the first quarter was played to a draw with both squads mustering 8 points. Led by 5 points in the second quarter from senior Jessica Slane the T-Birds were able to outscore South Baca taking the lead at the break 23-22.

The Thunderbirds were able to maintain pressure in the third quarter thanks to baskets from Slane, Alyssa Mortensen and Lexi Metz. Sangre would enter the final frame with a 31-27 advantage. But that’s where the roll ended for Sangre.

South Baca would put together a 10-point fourth quarter to take the lead and the win over Sangre de Cristo. Jessica Slane paced the scoring for the Thunderbirds with 11 points. The loss effectively ends Sangre de Cristo’s season as the tournament will not be not be playing a seventh-place game.

The boys of Sangre de Cristo have fared much better. After starting their tournament with a victory over Kit Carson, Sangre de Cristo would meet No. 6 Merino in the semifinals. A big first quarter from Cole Christensen put Sangre de Cristo ahead 10-7. The Thunderbirds continued to move at a furious pace, Christensen adding another four points to his team leading 10 points, to get Sangre de Cristo to the half leading 28-22. It would seem that the Thunderbirds were all set to control the game to its finish but returning from the break Merino would outscore Sangre de Cristo for the first time all game.

Jake Slane would come up big for Sangre de Cristo with 8 third quarter points to keep pace with the Rams. With the score 41-36 the two teams would enter the fourth quarter. In the fourth frame Merino’s Cade Conger posted 8 of the Ram’s 15 points to tie the game up at 56 points at the end of regulation.

In the overtime period Sangre de Cristo would capitalize on four trips to the charity stripe going 7-of-7 on free throws to put Merino away and advance to the State Championship game. Saturday night in Pueblo No. 2 Sangre de Cristo will take on No. 1 DeBeque. The Thunderbirds and Dragons will take the court at 6:30 p.m.

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