They’re back: Sabercats inch by Regis to earn second straight state title berth


Connor Tometich

The Fossil Ridge team joyously celebrating after advancing to the state championship game for the second consecutive season.

Dylan Heinrich, Sports Editor

Fossil Ridge is back in the state title game after a fast paced, adrenaline pumping 66-62 win over  the seventh ranked Regis Jesuit Raiders in the Final Four.

Fossil started things off hot, taking an 11-2 run to start the game. But Regis clawed their way back, going on an 8-0 scoring run, to cut the Fossil lead to one after one quarter. 

The third ranked Sabercats continued to build on their lead with a much more active scoring second quarter. Fossil racked up 21 points in the second, with seven of those coming from wing Colin Hayes. Hayes was causing an impact all over the floor, with 15 points and a block. Along with some solid defense, Fossil secured a 31-25 lead heading into the half.

“I really used my defense to add to my offense,” Hayes said. “I just had the mindset none of them could guard me.”

Hayes was efficient with his scoring, shooting 6/10 from the field.

Things only went up from there as a 7-0 run to start the second half helped balloon the Fossil lead all the way up to 45-35 after three quarters. 

Both teams cranked up the intensity during the fourth quarter, playing a frantic fast paced style resulting in a combined 48 points. Fossil held a seven point lead with 50 seconds left, forcing Regis to foul. Fossil stayed calm and made some big free throws, with seven made in the final two minutes to secure the 66-62 nail biting win. Nick Randall came up big with three of those made free throws, adding to an already impressive day of 18 points and 12 rebounds.

“We’ve been in situations like that before,” Randall said. “You just have to focus and tune out the crowd.”

Randall led Fossil Ridge with four made free throws, with three of those coming in the last minute.

Another big moment came from Domenic Leone, who secured an offensive rebound in the final minute to give the Sabercats another chance at the line. Fossil was active on the glass all game, with 38 rebounds compared to the Raiders’ 29. Ten of those boards came on the offensive end, leading to 12 second chance points.  

“Everyone had to do their job,” Leone said. “Once you get those rebounds you get more possessions, and they get less.”

Leone catching his breath during a hectic final minute. (Connor Tometich)

The Sabercats had a great game from all of their starters, with each of the five adding at least nine points to the team’s total. With Randall scoring below his average, he spent the game distributing the ball around to his teammates.

“If they’re going to double me, I’m going to find an open layup,” Randall said. 

Fossil is back in the state championship game for the second consecutive season, falling short in the title game last year to ThunderRidge. Now that they’re finally back, the Sabercats are not settling for second place this time around.

“I’ve been saying it all year, let’s go win a state championship,” Leone said.

“I’m really excited to play in the state championship again,” Randall said.

“One more,” Hayes said.

Fossil Ridge will take on Denver East back at the Coliseum on Saturday, March 11 at 4 p.m.