LAKEWOOD — No current Alameda International boys basketball players were even alive the last time the Pirates won a playoff game on their home court. However, the Pirates successfully turned back …
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LAKEWOOD — No current Alameda International boys basketball players were even alive the last time the Pirates won a playoff game on their home court.
However, the Pirates successfully turned back the clock Feb. 20 with a thrilling 38-36 victory against old Jeffco rival D’Evelyn in the opening round of the Class 4A state tournament.
“I’ve never seen Alameda come together like this,” Alameda senior Isiah Lawson said while students were still celebrating on the court. “I’ve never seen these many people in the crowd. The vibe at the school is just amazing.”
In the crowd for the historic victory included Duane Lewis and Scott Smith, two former Alameda boys basketball coaches that guided the Pirates during their glory days. The program advanced to the 4A Final Four in 2000 and the 4A championship game in 1996.
Lewis and Smith witnessed the first postseason victory on the Pirates home court in nearly two decades since CHSAA went to then extended state tournament field.
“It means a lot to be honest,” Alameda coach Geremey Gibson said. “It’s good for the school. It was good for us.”
While D’Evelyn (8-16 record) entered the game as the No. 42 seed and Alameda (18-7) came in as the No. 23 seed, history on the Jaguars’ side. D’Evelyn had advanced to the Sweet 16 of the state tournament in the first three years under coach Dan Zinn.
The fourth quarter started with the game knotted up 28-28.
“It was either eight minutes or go home,” Lawson said of his thoughts going into the final quarter tied. “It’s my senior year and I didn’t want to go out like that. I was just trying to play lockdown defense.”
Lawson literally stole the show in the final quarter. He had a number of steals and fitting made the eventual game-winning shot.
“Alameda came out in that fourth quarter and we determined not to lose,” Zinn said. “Give credit to them. They did it on the defensive end and that has created their offense all year.”
Alameda trailed 36-35 with less than a minute to play. The Pirates called a timeout with the ball and drew up a familiar play designed for Lawson. Senior Dominic Creazzo fired a pass to a cutting Lawson in the lane. The 5-foot-10 guard put up an aerobic shot in the lane and was fouled.
“We run that everyday in practice,” Lawson said of his driving layup in the lane that led to the 3-point play with 23.9 seconds left to play, giving the Pirates a 38-36 lead. “I knew something good was going to happen.”
Lawson came up with another big steal with 11.8 seconds left and was fouled again.
“He clearly stole it,” Gibson said of Lawson’s defensive effort in the final few minutes. “We’ve been harping defense and our senior captain came up big.”
Lawson missed the front-end of the one-and-one to give D’Evelyn a chance to send the game into overtime. D’Evelyn senior Evan Willis was about to get off a potential game-tying shot in the final seconds, but Creazzo blocked his shot from behind. Lawson grabbed the loose ball and fired it into the air as the buzzer sounded.
“They are good. There is a reason why they have won a lot of games this year,” Zinn said of Alameda. “It was a good basketball game. It was back-and-forth there in the fourth quarter. They just happened to come out on the winning side tonight.”
Alameda jumped out to an early 15-3 lead against D’Evelyn. Creazzo and Lawson led the Pirates in scoring with a dozen points each.
Seniors Dan Brady (11 points) and Willis (eight points) led the Jaguars in the season-ending loss.
“It was a tough year in a lot of ways,” said Zinn, who had his team play one of the toughest schedules in 4A. “Our seniors battled, but I think in the end it’s our young guys who have to take away and learn. We are going to be put through the gauntlet
as far as the schedule because that is how we set it up. We have to rise to the occasion and be better.”
Alameda’s season came to an end Feb. 23 with a second-round playoff loss against No. 10 Harrison. The Pirates played well in Colorado Springs, but came up short on the getting the upset. Harrison won 55-52.
Harrison (20-4) actually were scheduled to host the lone Jeffco team — No. 26 Golden — remaining in the either the boys 4A or 5A state tournaments. The Demons upset No. 7 Glenwood Springs on Feb. 23. Golden and Harrison were scheduled to play their Sweet 16 game Wednesday, Feb. 27, after press deadline.
Dennis Pleuss is a communications specialist for Jeffco Public Schools with a focus on athletic and activities. For more Jeffco coverage, go online at CHSAANow.com/Jeffco.
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