Basketball season ends without champions

Some semifinal games had already been played before decision was made

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There will be no 2020 Colorado state basketball champions.

After the girls semifinal games in the 3A, 4A and 5A classifications were played on March 12, the Colorado High School Activities Association canceled the remainder of the girls and boys state basketball tournaments in all classes.

CHSAA has maintained throughout the process of facing the COVID-19 pandemic that the tournaments would be finished unless a state agency or host venue made a decision affecting that status.

The University of Denver told CHSAA late on March 12 that the school would no longer be able to host the 3A tournament.

“Everything we've done up to this point was to try and keep the experience of a state basketball tournament for our student participants and high school communities,” CHSAA Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green said in a news release issued late the night of March 12. “In the face of this unprecedented public health emergency, we are compelled to discontinue play in all tournaments.”

There were two Class 5A and two 4A girls semifinal games that were held March 12 at the Denver Coliseum before the tournament was canceled. The games were played with limited spectators allowed in the venues.

Defending 5A champion Cherry Creek defeated Highlands Ranch 55-42 as senior Cali Clark had 20 points to pace the Bruins. Lauren Betts scored 21 points and Marya Hudgins added 17 as Grandview topped Valor Christian, 49-42. That would have set up a rematch of the 2019 title game between Creek and Grandview.

Holy Family defeated Green Mountain 38-31 in a 4A semifinal girls game. Defending champion Mullen downed Berthoud 64-57 in the other 4A semifinal girls games, leaving those two teams atop the bracket.

The Final Four for the Class 5A boys games had Rangeview going against Grandview and Valor Christian taking on Fairview, both scheduled for March 13, but those games were called off.

Ten other states have canceled their state basketball tournaments, 16 have postponed or suspended their tournaments, 12 have ongoing tourneys with fan limits, and Montana is conducting its state championships as planned.

Cherry Creek girls coach Clint Evans didn't hear about the cancellations until he reached home after the semifinal game.

“So, as I got into the house I started getting text messages and I said oh my goodness,” said Evans. “We (the team) went out to breakfast this morning and we just decided to get together and talk. Misery loves company, I guess.

“The girls feel that we want everybody to be safe and nothing bad to happen. It's just so odd. Every year there's something new that happens but you could never predict not having a state champion.”

Evans figured once the semifinal game was complete he thought maybe the championship game could be played between the two Centennial League schools that each won a game against the other during the regular season.

“I really wasn't too surprised when we got the news,” said Evans. “I feel like I am kind of at peace with it, but I just feel bad for the girls. It could have been two (state titles) in a row for us. I think the school district will call us co-champs and put a little asterisk by it.”

Mullen girls coach Frank Cawley feels the right decision was made to cancel the rest of the basketball tournaments.

“It's a tough pill to swallow but it was definitely the right call,” he said. “As educators it was what we had to do. These girls need to understand that life happens and sometimes you are dealt a blow that you can't handle. My team showed some maturity and understanding.

“The way we look at is that my group of girls have not lost a playoff game. We were the defending champions and nobody has beat us. We're proud of our accomplishments. I'm happy for Holy Family (the other semifinal winner). The championship would have been a great game. We can both look at it as being co-champions.”

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