As the #1 Air Academy Kadets and #4 Pueblo South Colts stepped on to the floor in yesterday’s final 4A Final Four game, fans from both schools cheered on their respective squads – urging on a winner to face Mullen for a 4A State Championship.Heading into the game, the Kadets found themselves undefeated and owners of a three-point victory over Pueblo South just under a month ago. The Colts, the loss fresh in their minds, sought out revenge, and got just that by way of a three-point victory of their own.
We could not have had a more evenly matched game yesterday between Air Academy and Pueblo South.Neither team giving the other any chance to break open the score, although through most of the first it appeared to be headed that direction in favor of the Colts. The Kadets were on the board first to start the game, but Pueblo South answered right back and ultimately held Air Academy to only three points for the first 6:15 of the game. Tables turned as Pueblo South could no longer get a basket to fall, while the Kadets scored at the buzzer to knot things up at nine.
The quarter began in a similar fashion as Pueblo South stretched the lead back to close to double digits before Air Academy was able to battle back and close the gap.Two three-pointers by the Kadets brought them to within a single possession with a minute to go. A Colts block prevented the Kadets from tying things up at 22 before the break and a final attempt at the buzzer went awry sending the teams into the break with a Pueblo South lead, 22-20.
The second half began with Air Academy tying the game at 22 before the Colts went right back up by two.The lead swung back to Air Academy and an incredible hustle play by Pueblo South’s Jada Dupree prevented the Kadets from extending the lead further. Following Dupree’s efforts the score went back and forth for the remainder of the third with Air Academy taking a slim 33-31 lead into the fourth.
Four minutes came and went in the fourth with Air Academy and Pueblo South trading baskets.Pueblo South found a spark behind senior Gabi Lucero who scored six straight to give the Colts a 42-36 lead down the stretch. With only a minute to go, the Kadets found themselves down by four and abandoning any attempt inside, but a foul on a second chance effort sent Kadets junior Kylee Blacksten to the line where she connected on both attempts to cut the lead to just two points. The moment caught up to the Kadets as they had a chance to tie the game with under thirty seconds to go, but a miss and a Pueblo South rebound sent emotions in overload. An intentional foul sent Lucero to the line, but she could only connect on one shot. On the inbounding foul, Lucero made sure to connect on both shots giving the Colts the five-point cushion they needed. A floater at the end closed the gap to three, but it was a little too late for the Kadets as they suffered their first loss of the season. Coincidently, the Kadets won by three points last month when the teams faced one another, yesterday, the Colts flipped the script, winning by three themselves to advance to the 4A Finals riding a 45-42 victory.
Junior Kylee Blacksten scored a team-high 14 points and secured 12 rebounds in the loss. Senior Liza Louthan followed suit with 11 points and eight rebounds. Zoe Sims and Tatum Miller each had six points, while Sims was able to grab three rebounds and dish out two assists, Miller came up with one rebound.
The Colts run through center Gabi Lucero. She proved to be an effective scorer hitting a game-high 25 points while also being an absolute terror on the boards with 15 rebounds. Junior guard Jada Dupree finished with eight points, three rebounds, and seven assists. Senior Drea Nelson came away with six points and seven rebounds. Freshman Kenzie Patterson added six points and three rebounds of her own.