David Jabedo took the first three quarters. Jeffrey Gary handled the final frame. Between the two of them, they helped Sand Creek exact a bit of revenge on Vista Ridge Friday night.
In front of a sellout crowd - around 1,200 people in the stands and another 200 watching a live stream next door - the 4A Scorpions beat 5A Vista Ridge 48-41 in the final regular season game for both teams, thanks in large part to the scoring efforts of Jabedo and Gary.
Jabedo scored 21 of his team's 27 points in the first half, and after Vista Ridge scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter to take the lead, Gary scored nine of the Scorpions' 12 points in the final frame to help seal the win for Sand Creek (18-5, 11-3 5A/4A Pikes Peak Athletic Conference).
"Goodness," Sand Creek coach Rob Hawkins said of Jabedo's play. "We told him, even before the last game (against Vista Ridge - a 68-53 Vista win), this is what you have to do. He had to make shots and make better decisions. He was the difference in the game, honestly."
Vista Ridge coach Joe Hites wasn't short on praise for Jabedo, who finished with 25 points.
"Jabedo did a phenomenal job," Hites said. "He stepped up, hit some huge shots, and stayed consistent, too."
In front of a rowdy Vista Ridge crowd that trended toward deafening at times, Gary knocked down several critical buckets in the fourth quarter.
"We really persevered - that shows this team's mental toughness," said Gary, who finished with 14 points. "Hopefully this can build some momentum for us going into playoffs, there's no better place to do it."
For Vista Ridge (17-6, 11-2), senior and Wyoming commit Hunter Maldonado led the way, finishing with 20 points.
Sand Creek's D'shawn Schwartz, a senior committed to CU-Boulder, again faced a tenacious Vista Ridge defense that followed him like a hawk and double teamed him when they could. He finished with four points.
Both coaches commended the efforts of both teams in what was a tenacious, physical, defensive battle.
"How else do you want basketball to be played?" Hites said. "It was shown by the effort on the floor - everything looked important to both teams."
For Hawkins, who called the win better than going undefeated, it's all about playoffs.
"I feel fortunate for us to be able to have played this game, and to win it," he said. "What preparation for the playoffs. I couldn't script it any better."
For both teams, the attention now turns to the release of state brackets on Sunday, and finding out where they play next.
"We have a mission: not to lose anymore," Hawkins said.