Boys basketball team wins first state championship in program history

An 87-84 victory over Kapaun Mt. Carmel in overtime brings home second state title of the school year


By Sarah Morgan

With the state trophy in their hands, the basketball team celebrates their win.

Tori Aerni, Braden Shaw, JagWire editor-in-chief, JagWire sports editor

The moment boys basketball players described as “hype,” “the best feeling of my life” and “indescribable” was the moment the basketball team won its first state championship in program history. The team defeated the Kapaun Mt. Carmel Crusaders 87-84 in overtime in the 5A basketball state championship on Saturday, March 12.

For senior guard Logan Koch, winning a state championship was not out of reach, as the team’s motto throughout the season was ‘Why Not Us?’.

“Why can’t we win the title?” Koch said. “It’s our year … just do whatever it takes to win the title.”

The Jaguars got off to a fast start in the first quarter, making four three-pointers and taking an early 22-16 lead.

The second quarter continued with the Jaguars leading, but the Crusaders kept the game close. Going into halftime the score was 44-37, Jaguars. Sophomore guard Cooper Kaifes led the Jaguars in scoring with 11 points and Kapaun junior Chris Meitzner led all scorers with 26 points in the first half. Click here for first half photos.

Throughout a majority of the third quarter, the Jaguars held the lead, but a layup by the Crusaders in the final seconds of the quarter gave them their first lead of the game. The Crusaders outscored the Jaguars 19-13 in the third quarter.

The score was 57-56, Crusaders, going into the fourth quarter. The teams exchanged leads for the rest of regulation, both teams making shot after shot. Senior forward Clayton Holmberg scored 12 points in the quarter and put the team in a position to win the game. But after a missed three-point attempt by Kaifes, the game entered overtime.

Despite the nerves that came along with overtime, senior guard Kasey Conklin had a positive outlook on the final minutes of the game.

“[Overtime] was just another chance to get a victory,” Conklin said. “It was all tied up and we had four minutes to play our best.”

Overtime consisted of foul trouble for both teams, as three Crusaders players fouled out, along with Holmberg. Offense mainly came from the line, as 10 of the Jaguars 12 points came from free throws. The Jaguars pulled ahead with :13 to play following free throws from Kaifes and senior guard Jaison Widmer, securing the victory. Click here for second half and overtime photos.

Going into the tournament, Conklin and the team’s mindset was hopeful as they knew they had the potential to bring home a state championship.

“We knew we had the talent to win it all,” Conklin said. “But we also knew that if we didn’t play the way that we were supposed to play, then anybody could beat us. We just went into each game, gave it 100 percent effort and laid it all on the line. Just see what happens.”

Head coach Mike Bennett appreciates the effort put in by his players all season and how winning with this group makes the championship even better. Click here for celebration photos.

“It’s a great feeling. I’m just so happy for these kids,” Bennett said. “They deserve it. When you put in all this hard work together … it means everything. I’m really happy that they had the opportunity to win this.”

After four years of high school basketball for Holmberg, this moment will be one to cherish.

“[It’s] bittersweet, but obviously more sweet than bitter because we came out on top,” Holmberg said.

By winning both football and basketball state championships, Mill Valley becomes the first 5A school to win both titles in the same season. Bennett said this win for the basketball team is an accomplishment to build upon.

“Hopefully [a state title] is a stepping stone,” Bennett said. “It’s a starting point for this group, for this program to continue going in the right direction. [It’s all about] what these kids have to put in and the work that they have to put in to be here.”

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