ThunderRidge made just one field goal in the fourth quarter of its Great 8 game against Doherty, but the timing was perfect. Bailey Verk took a pass from Kaison Hammonds and made a layup just before …
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ThunderRidge made just one field goal in the fourth quarter of its Great 8 game against Doherty, but the timing was perfect.
Bailey Verk took a pass from Kaison Hammonds and made a layup just before the buzzer as the Grizzlies moved into the Class 5A semifinals with a 45-43 Great 8 win on March 3 at the Denver Coliseum.
ThunderRidge will be playing in its ninth Final Four game in school history when the Grizzlies face Grandview in a 7 p.m. contest on March 9 at the Coliseum.
“The Doherty game was about getting to the Final Four,” said ThunderRidge coach Joe Ortiz. “We were a little out of sorts, including myself, but we get to move on and that's the name of the game.
“The past two games we looked like all-stars but against Doherty we were sluggish and struggled, but we got through it. Kaison did a great job, Bailey did a great job.”
There were 11 lead changes and five ties in the game and the last tie came with nine seconds to play when Doherty's Kyrele Benford hit a long 3-point basket that bounced high off the rim and dropped through the basket to deadlock the game with 10 seconds to play.
ThunderRidge was 0-for-10 from the field in the fourth quarter but Ortiz didn't call a timeout after Benford's tying bucket.
Hammonds raced down court, dished off a pass to Verk in the lane and the 6-foot-4 junior hit the winning shot to beat the final buzzer.
“I was just trying to get down the court and get a put-back when we shot it,” said Verk, who led the team with 13 points. “It just so happened that I got open and got the last-second shot up and made it. It feels like one step closer to winning our overall goal.”
Hammonds, a 6-4 senior, had 12 points and saved the most meaningful of his four assists until the end.
“I looked up and saw there was 10 seconds left and obviously their defense was kind of out of whack,” said Hammonds. “I went down and tried to make a play and saw Bailey open in the block so I got it to him and he finished. It was good timing.”
Doherty lost, 66-49, early in the season to ThunderRidge, which came into the Great 8 contest averaging 70.3 points per game.
But the Grizzlies shot only 36.6 percent for the game and only 28.6 percent in the second half.
“We couldn't make any shots,” said Ortiz. “We had a lot of good looks. We had looks we wanted to take. It was hard to shoot. I don't know if it was our legs were a little shot. We never got into the flow.
“We had the two-point lead most of the half and just couldn't separate. Our kids fought hard and they fought hard.”
Verk had the answer to the poor shooting.
“When our shots aren't falling we just come out and play defense,” he said. “We play defense because that's what wins championships.”
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