Defending champion CSCS beaten in boys' basketball semifinals

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The Lions tried to claw back, cutting the gap to 33-27 heading to the fourth. Then Lions senior Justin Engesser scored five of his game-high 25 points in 34 seconds to open the fourth and cut the lead to one.
But Sterling hit back-to-back 3s and connected on two three-point plays to go on a 12-4 run and put the game out of reach, up 45-36 with 2:58 to play.
“We knew they were good shooters,” CSCS coach Mark Engesser said. “But you never expect them to shoot that well for that long.”
The Tigers hit four of their first six 3-point attempts and built a 12-5 lead with 1:23 left in the quarter.
Justin Engesser hit a 3-pointer with less than 10 seconds to play in the quarter and Noah Hopkins stole the subsequent inbound pass and scored on a short jumper. The seven-point deficit was reduced to two in the span of seconds.
For the second time in as many days, CSCS (23-3), making its fourth consecutive semifinals appearance, had to dig itself out of an early deficit. On Thursday, it took more than three and a half quarters to get the lead. On Friday, the Lions rallied for the lead earlier, grabbing their first lead on a jumper from Engesser that put them up 16-15 with 3:36 left in the half. They took an 18-17 lead into the break.
But that lead was short-lived, as Carter Keil opened the second half with a 3 and the Tigers never trailed again, snapping the Lions’ 15-game winning streak.
The Tigers hit their first two 3-point shots of the half and four of their first five, including Riley Schaefer’s second of the half that put the Tigers up 29-22 with 3:30 left in the quarter.
Expecting the law of averages to even out, the Lions could find no defense when Sterling kept hitting 3s.
“That’s why I started in zone, that’s our best defense, and I said, ‘Can teams hit that many 3s over the course of 32 minutes?’” Mark Engesser said. “Well, they did.”
CSCS will play Kent Denver in the third-place game at DU at 2 p.m. Saturday.