The area's most electrifying basketball player, Ghassan Nehme, knew an all-star game wouldn't make up for a crushing defeat in the 4A semifinals. Six days after Cheyenne Mountain lost to Denver South 79-75 at the Coors Events Center, Nehme could still barely talk about it.
"It's time to move on," the Cheyenne Mountain senior said with a sigh of relief.
And he couldn't think of a better way to do that than with a basketball in his hand.
Thursday, on the court at Doherty High School, he joked around with refs, nailed 3-pointers just inside half court and made his usual circus shots look easy at the Southern Colorado All-Star Game.
Again, however, it wasn't enough to leave with a win in hand. The 5A Metro League All-Stars beat the 4A Pikes Peak All-Stars 100-96, signifying the end to so many high school basketball careers.
Doherty senior Shane Fox scored a team-high 19 points for 5A, which overcame a nine-point deficit in the first half and held on late for the win.
Vista Ridge junior Andrew Reed, meanwhile, scored a game-high 23 for the 4A team, while Sand Creek senior Dylan Clark and Nehme added 14 of their own in the loss.
With a minute remaining, it was Nehme, once again, on center stage. He scored four quick points to cut the deficit to 98-96, but missed a go-ahead 3 (a shot he made time and time again this past season) with 20 seconds left.
"This isn't the end for me," said Nehme, who hit a buzzer-beater shot the last time he was on this court, in a 54-53 win over Doherty in January. "It was a great season and despite not ending on top, I think it'll be a season for Cheyenne Mountain that is remembered for a long time."
The girls' programs at Rampart and Pine Creek can boast the same thing after a pair of surprisingly successful seasons in 5A.
Led by mainly freshmen and sophomores, the Eagles finished with a 21-3 record before they were eliminated in the second round. And the Rams, meanwhile, finished 20-6 and made it to the state quarterfinals for the first time in program history.
On Thursday, the two joined forces to beat the 4A Pikes Peak Athletic Conference All-Stars.
Rampart junior Cassidy Budge had 15 of her 19 points in the first half, teammate Megan Kavalec and Pine Creek freshman Spencer Lindsey each added 13 points as the 5A Metro League All-Stars held on to beat the 4A team 85-79.
Sand Creek's Liah Davis scored 22 points.
"It's a whole different atmosphere here. It's just fun," said Budge, who averaged 17.8 points this season. "It was fun to play with Pine Creek. They were tough to go against this year, and I know they'll be even better next season. So it was nice to get them on our side for once."
The girls' all-star affair also ended in suspense.
Air Academy's Kassady Huffman finished with four of her 15 points in the final minute, and what was a 20-point advantage for the Metro All-Stars turned into an 83-79 game with 30 seconds left.
Lindsey, however, slipped a layup in off the glass with 10 seconds remaining to clinch the win.
"That was an exciting game," a wide-grinning Lindsey said. "I think this just gets a lot of us even more excited for next season."