Nehme's clutch shot puts Cheyenne Mountain in 4A semifinals for first time

March 8, 2014 Updated: March 8, 2014 at 10:00 pm
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photo - Cheyenne Mountain's Christian Nehme drives to the hoop past Thompson Valley's Grant Rohrbouck (5). Cheyenne Mountain beat Thompson Valley 84-81 in double overtime in the quarterfinals of the 4A Boys Colorado Basketball State Championships Saturday, March 8, 2014 at the Denver Coliseum. Christian Nehme finished the game with 20 points while his older brother Ghassan led the team with 41 points. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette
Cheyenne Mountain's Christian Nehme drives to the hoop past Thompson Valley's Grant Rohrbouck (5). Cheyenne Mountain beat Thompson Valley 84-81 in double overtime in the quarterfinals of the 4A Boys Colorado Basketball State Championships Saturday, March 8, 2014 at the Denver Coliseum. Christian Nehme finished the game with 20 points while his older brother Ghassan led the team with 41 points. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette 

DENVER - Cheyenne Mountain coach J'on St. Clair offered a one-word response when asked if senior guard Ghassan Nehme maybe shoots the ball too much.

"Never," St. Clair said.

With Cheyenne Mountain trailing by three in the waning seconds of double overtime, Nehme launched his 29th shot of the night - the rest of his team combined for 26 - in an epic 4A quarterfinal against Thompson Valley on Saturday at the Denver Coliseum.

Nehme's legend grew when he was fouled while making that last shot, broke the tie with a free throw and sparked Cheyenne Mountain to an 84-81 win and a first trip to the 4A semifinals (vs. Denver South on Friday at CU-Boulder) in school history.

"When you have a player like that, you have to say he's going to miss some," St. Clair said about Nehme, who ended the night with 41 points on 12-of-29 shooting. "If I told him not to, he maybe wouldn't have made that last shot."

Cheyenne Mountain (21-5) survived a last-second Jake Hornick shot at the end of regulation, then was extended to a second extra period after Grant Rohrbouck put in a layup off a backdoor bounce pass from Hornick with 5 seconds left.

Rohrbouck, who led his team with 26 points, made two free throws that gave the Eagles (24-2) an 81-78 lead with 35.7 seconds left in the second overtime.

On the ensuing possession, Nehme missed a 3-pointer from the right wing, but he got a second chance after reserve guard Cody McCurry got the offensive rebound and got the ball back to the team's leader.

"You can't give anyone a second chance in that situation," Rohrbouck said. "Especially him. In terms of playing basketball, this was probably the best game of my life. I'm kind of speechless."

Nehme took over the third quarter, scoring 17 points, 12 in a 14-0 run that gave the Indians a 41-36 lead after trailing by nine just three minutes earlier.

But it was far from a one-man show. His younger brother, Christian, who missed the Jan. 25 game when Thompson Valley recorded a 56-47 win at Cheyenne Mountain, added 20 points.

And other gritty efforts from starter Nathan Resty (11 rebounds) and reserves, such as Christopher Garcia (two 3-pointers), McCurry (two 3-pointers and the aforementioned clutch offensive rebound) were enough to nudge the Indians to the next round after last year's loss to Lewis-Palmer in Cheyenne Mountain's quarterfinal debut.

"This is about how our team came together," Ghassan Nehme said. "That's what has taken us to next weekend. This moment is going to go down in history, and I can't be more proud. We fought, and when things looked down, we kept on fighting. It took everyone's efforts."

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