The Lewis-Palmer boys’ basketball team is headed to the Class 4A state Final Four for the fifth consecutive season and ninth time in 11 years.
The No. 1 seeded Rangers stamped their ticket to the big dance with a convincing 76-41 victory over No. 9 Centaurus (18-8) in the Great Eight March 2 at home in front of another loud crowd.
The Final Four takes place Friday and Saturday at the Denver Coliseum. Lewis-Palmer plays No. 4 Holy Family (22-4) in the semifinals Friday at 4 p.m.
It will be the second meeting of the season between the two teams. On Dec. 1, Lewis-Palmer defeated Holy Family, 60-43, in the Golden Tournament.
“All year long we talk about putting ourselves in a position to be the most successful we can be,” said Lewis-Palmer coach Bill Benton. “Until we won a (Pikes Peak Athletic Conference) championship we hadn’t done anything.
“And so we got a No. 1 seed. All the work that these guys have done, I’m glad they’re rewarded.”
Senior Joel Scott led the Rangers with 22 points against Centaurus. He also scored a game-high 22 points in the team’s 74-19 Sweet Sixteen blowout victory over No. 17 Greeley Central on Feb. 27.
“The next game is always the most important game and we’re just going to go out and have fun,” Scott said.
Lewis-Palmer (26-0) has been the most consistent team in the state, at any level, during its remarkable 11-year run. But this is the first time the Rangers are heading to the Final Four undefeated.
“We don’t think about that stuff,” said Lewis-Palmer senior shooting guard Matthew Ragsdale. “It’s nice that we’re undefeated, but we’re always trying to improve.”
If the Rangers defeat Holy Family, they would play the winner between No. 2 Longmont (26-0) and No. 14 Pueblo East (17-9).
Lewis-Palmer defeated Pueblo East, 78-50, at home on Dec. 20.
Longmont is the defending state champion. It defeated Lewis-Palmer in the 2018 finals, 62-59.
Longmont survived a major scare in the Great Eight. It trailed No. 10 Harrison (21-5), 49-40 after three quarters. Longmont began the fourth on a 12-0 run and ended up defeating the Panthers in overtime, 64-63.
Longmont has three players that are averaging double figures in scoring, led by Beck Page’s 14.4. Junior Dallas Dye is averaging 9.0 points and a team-best 7.3 rebounds.
The state championship game is set for Saturday at 3 p.m.
Lewis-Palmer has played in four of the last seven state championship games. It won titles in 2012 and 2013, and lost in 2017.
The Rangers’ record over the last three seasons is 74-8. Lewis-Palmer has won 38 of its last 39 games since back-to-back losses in December 2017 to Liberty and Palmer Ridge.
This year’s Lewis-Palmer team is the most dominant, statistically, in the history of the program. The Rangers have 15 games by 30 or more points. Only once this season did Lewis-Palmer win a game by less than 12 points: Dec. 11 at Liberty, 48-42.