CSCS girls
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The Colorado Springs Christian School bench reacts after a 3-point basket against Pagosa Springs in the Class 3A girls’ semifinals Friday in Denver.

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DENVER — Dad’s not doing so well with this whole empty nest idea. He’d rather deal with it later.

Mom? She’s OK with it. Now she gets to sleep, for goodness sakes. No more running to Target to find the right kind of blank DVDs for film study, like she did at 11 the night before Colorado Springs Christian beat Pagosa Springs 59-35 at the University of Denver on Friday.

“I’m not going to miss that part,” Mom said with a laugh.

The rest they’re going to miss, big time. Mark and Jody Engesser are going to watch their final kid play her final game for CSCS on Saturday — in the Class 3A state championship against St. Mary’s, a worthy adversary and their annual rival.

And it’s starting to set in. Shoot, can you blame them? Mark’s the coach at CSCS, Jody’s one of the assistant coaches, and a steady stream of Engessers has bombed 3s and set school records over a decade of hoops in the Pikes Peak region. And that’s just the part we saw.

The parts we didn’t see go back much further. They go back to when Mark coached Nate, who later played at the University of Denver, every year of Nate’s life from kindergarten through his senior year of high school. He coached Justin, who just finished his sophomore season at Colorado Christian, every year of Justin’s life except for the seventh and eighth grades. And he’s coached Megan, who’s off to play at the University of Portland this year, every season since she was in kindergarten.

The scouting report on kindergarten Megan was the same as the scouting report on senior-year Megan: "Don't let her shoot," Dad said.

“I still get nervous during the national anthem,” Mom said.

The state championship game's at 4 p.m. inside Hamilton Gymnasium, so right around 5:30 p.m. they’re going to sub out, celebrate with or console one of their own for the last time.

Isn’t high school basketball great?

And isn’t it tough to handle sometimes?

“I don’t want to think about it,” Mark said outside the locker room after the Lions rained 3-pointers in the state semifinal against Pagosa Springs. “Don’t want to talk about it till tomorrow.”

“I’ve shed a few tears just thinking about it,” he allowed.

And this is how it should be, anyway: Colorado Springs Christian (25-1) vs. St. Mary’s (25-1) for the whole enchilada. They’ve only lost to each other. They played in the state championship game last year, won by St. Mary’s. They’ve been the two best teams again this season in Class 3A. This is how it should be.

“The last three years,” Mark Engesser said, “they’ve won, we’ve won, they’ve won, we’ve won, they’ve won, we’ve won ...”

DU/CC hockey dropped the puck next door to Hamilton Gym when St. Mary’s was finishing off a win against Eaton in the other 3A semifinal. Air Force/CSU football packs some heat, and Lewis-Palmer/Palmer Ridge football offers a proper show. But as Pikes Peak rivalries go, well, there haven’t been a whole lot better than CSCS-St. Mary’s here at state or elsewhere.

“They always have a really good team,” Megan Engesser said.

And up until happy hour Saturday there’s always been a really good Engesser at CSCS. Friday she added to the family legacy with a 3-pointer that bumped her over the 2,000-point plateau, a remarkable feat matched by her brothers. The Lions hit five 3s in the first quarter and never were bothered by the Pirates or the, ahem, boisterous parent section brought from Pagosa Springs.

Megan Engesser had a game-high 19 points. Rachel Ingram, a terrific guard who’s signed to play ball at Alaska-Anchorage, had 16, and freshman Elleah Hoekert had 17.

“Pretty soon we just get to sit back, relax and just enjoy their games,” Jody Engesser said.

Not yet, though. One more.

(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)

Sports columnist

Denver sports columnist for The Gazette

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