Boys basketball to play for the first state championship in program history

Jaguars defeat Washington 65-37 in state semifinal game


By Morgan Nelson

Watching a shot go in the basket, seniors Jaison WIdmer, Logan Koch, and Jacob Klenda prepare to put they hands in the air as celebration.

Taylor Anderson, Braden Shaw, JAG editor-in-chief, JagWire sports editor

As he exited the locker room, senior Tyler Grauer pounded his fists against the locker room walls, excited to join the rest of his teammates to celebrate clinching the school’s first berth in the boys state championship game.

The Jaguars defeated the Washington High School Wildcats, 65-37, in the first 5A state semifinal. The first quarter was fairly back-and-forth, with the Jaguars taking a 19-11 lead.

Once the second quarter came, the Jaguars went on 22-8 run to take a 41-19 lead at halftime. During the first half, sophomore Cooper Kaifes contributed 14 points, including a three-pointer in the final seconds, along with three three-pointers from senior Kasey Conklin.

Kaifes took the first half as a key moment in the game and that “the coaching really helped us out and it really helped my confidence.” Click here for photos from the first half.

Senior Jaison Widmer said despite the team’s wide lead, players pushed to keep their momentum going. 

“We knew we were up, but we still had to step on them in the second half,” Widmer said. “We knew if we came out hard, we’d finish the game strong.”

The Jaguars maintained a zone defense to keep the lead throughout the second half, not letting Washington back into the game. Kaifes finished the game with 17 points.

With a minute left to play, the Jaguars held a 65-35 lead over the Wildcats. Erupting into cheers, members of the student section began chanting “State, State, State,” as the final seconds ticked away. Click here for photos from the second half.

“I love sitting in the student section,” senior Sarah Amos said. “We supported every player of the team, even the ones that were on the bench, and I thought it was really fun.”

The team will face Kapaun Mt. Carmel on Saturday, March 12 at 6:15 pm to compete for the state title.

“It’s a great feeling because the school has never made it this far,” Widmer said. “Our goals for the next game are just to come out and play together as a team. We’re going to focus on the prize and get that state championship.”

Head coach Mike Bennett believes the team is up to the challenge due to their high aspirations all season.

“These guys have talked about [winning a state title] all year long and they’ve put in so much work,” Bennett said. “It’s a great feeling that they’ve put in all of this work and they get to play for a state championship.”

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