Sabercats win playoff battle against rival Collins with Randall’s monster performance


Dylan Heinrich

Nick Randall throwing down a thunderous dunk during the second half of Fossil’s Great Eight victory.

Dylan Heinrich, Sports Editor

Two of the best teams in the state matched up on Saturday March 4 at the Denver Coliseum, as the Fossil Ridge Sabercats defeated the Fort Collins Lambkins 72-58.

This was a highly anticipated rematch from the Lambkins’ thrilling 55-52 victory in the regular season, making the difference in the conference championship race. 

The two teams match up very evenly on paper, with extremely talented starting fives and running through their big man, Fossil’s Nick Randall and Collins’ Luke Wagstaff.

Both teams played near identical to start the game, as Fossil only held a 32-30 lead heading into the half. Fossil was down 28-26 late in the second quarter, but two big threes by Drew Larson and Ty Brown pushed them ahead at the break. It was the only three-pointers the Sabercats made through 16 minutes of play. 

Larson was back in the starting lineup with Boldt limited by an ankle injury, and stepped back into the top five perfectly. The forward hit ten points while gobbling up seven rebounds as Fossil’s third leading scorer. 

One of the Sabercats ahead of him in the scoring department was guard Ty Brown. After only scoring three points in their first meeting, Brown changed his tune to 11 points, including four free throws down the stretch.

“It was just about being confident in my shot,” Brown said. 

Brown has now scored double-digit points in consecutive playoff games. (Dylan Heinrich)

Fossil Ridge kicked things into high gear during the second half, pulling away by outscoring Collins 40-28. 

One key to their second half dominance was the Sabercats’ confidence in their depth. While Fort Collins only played seven players during the game, Fossil rotated in all ten of their usual rotation players. This was a stark contrast to the first meeting, where Coach Johannsen and the Sabercats only rotated through seven players.

“It helped, no question,” Johannsen said. “It gave us guys fresh off the bench which they struggled with, so I think we capitalized on that.”

But nothing was more instrumental to the victory than Fossil’s star forward Nick Randall. Randall controlled the entire floor all game, with 31 points while shooting 13-13 from the field. That wasn’t all, as his paint dominance continued with eight rebounds and two blocks.

Randall fought through double teams and stout defense all night to push past Fort Collins.

“He’s been dominating all year,” Johannsen said. “I think he’s the [Colorado] player of the year. I’m so proud of him.”

For Randall the point of success was his ability to stay calm under the bright lights of the large venue.

“It’s all a part of the Coliseum,” Randall said. “My teammates helped get me the ball where I work best.”

This was a massive win for Fossil Ridge, with their first victory against a top ten opponent since December. This does nothing but build confidence that they are truly the top team in Colorado.

“I have a lot of respect for Fort Collins, a lot of respect for Coach [Bruce] Dick and what they do,” Johannsen said.

“I’m excited for the Final Four, we have a week to prepare,” Randall said. “It’s going to be great.”

The Sabercats will meet Regis Jesuit back in the Coliseum on Friday, March 10 at 12:45 p.m. as they search for their second straight trip to the state championship game.