Published: February 18, 2014
Fountain - So much hung in the balance on the last possession of the game Tuesday night at Fountain-Fort Carson. If the shot went in, the Trojans would make it 10 straight wins over Doherty and be in the driver's seat for another conference title.
But the shot didn't find the net.
As a result, Doherty held on for a 49-48 win and exercised five years' worth of demons en route to winning its first 5A Colorado Springs Metro League title since 2008-09.
After a wild, intense fourth quarter, F-FC's Jordan Rhodes took an inbound pass with 2.2 seconds left and fired a desperation jumper from deep in the corner. When it went wide, the Doherty players and fans rushed the court and could finally celebrate a win over the Trojans.
"Fountain has had our number over the past few years, and they've made us play faster than we would like and they have great defenders and are well-coached," Doherty coach James Lane said. "We put pressure on ourselves to win a championship tonight, and I don't know if it mattered who we were playing."
It's hard to imagine there wasn't some extra motivation for Doherty. The last time Doherty (15-7, 8-1 CSML) beat F-FC (10-12, 6-3), the Spartans' seniors were in seventh grade.
The Trojans' dominance of the 5A Metro since 2009 had often come at the expense of the Spartans, so it wasn't hard to see five years of frustration coming off their backs as they celebrated with their fans at mid-court.
"We knew we had to have this game tonight; we hadn't beaten them in five years and it was all or nothing," said Doherty senior Eli Peterson, who had 13 points and seven rebounds.
Peterson's parents moved to Japan before the season started, but he stayed behind, living with relatives and wanting to finish high school with his teammates.
"This was the reason I stayed behind," he said. "To be with my basketball family and to win a game like this."
Peterson had plenty of help in ending Doherty's nine-game losing streak to F-FC. Jason Anderson tallied 10 points and eight rebounds, while Tynan Velasquez chipped in with 10 points and five rebounds.
Doherty led 38-27 in the third quarter before Fountain mounted a furious comeback, capped with a steal and dunk from Michaud Williams to tie the game at 45 with 3:49 left.
"They are a very good team, and so are we, so when two good teams come together they bring out the best in each other," said Rhodes, who scored 13 points and added six rebounds. "That shot at the buzzer felt good and I thought it was going in, but we have to put this one behind us - no matter how bad we wanted it."
Doherty called timeout and regrouped after the game-tying dunk, and would score the next four points to go up 49-45. The Spartans escaped poor free-throw shooting in the final minute with solid defense and rebounding.
The victory clinched the second of two goals for Doherty this season. The Spartans wanted to be academic all-state as a team - which they say is likely to happen. The first goal was to be league champs.
"We have two down, and one to go," Peterson said. "Now, it's all about getting to the final four and trying to win state."