LOVELAND, Colo. (BVM) — There wasn’t anything more for Resurrection Christian to prove.
The undefeated, No. 1-ranked high school boys basketball team in Colorado boasted a 34-point average margin of victory and had just finished dominating Parker Lutheran, the No. 2-ranked team in Class 3A, by 29 points in the state quarterfinals.
“Honestly after that game I would’ve told you we were winning state,” said senior guard Reece Johnson, a team captain and a first team All-State selection. “Just the point margin
and how we played boosted our confidence. We were playing so well together, playing so hard and staying so solid.”
The 25-0 Cougars never had the chance to complete what looked to be a perfect run to the program’s first-ever state title. Shortly after their quarterfinal victory, they found out via Twitter that the remainder of the state tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We basically went from celebration to devastation within a matter of moments,” Resurrection head coach Bruce Dick said. “It was a tough night.”
“It went from shock and frustration immediately to sadness,” added Johnson. “You had eight seniors just balling their eyes out. It was a crazy emotional rollercoaster. But at the end of the day it was a great season and I enjoyed every part of it.”
It was an abrupt end to the best season in Resurrection history, and Dick said it was the most special team he’s coached in his 10 years at the helm.
“Obviously we had some very talented guys,” Dick said, “but with that talent they became just extraordinary leaders and dedicated players. We had the type of kids that would want to be in the gym early in the morning and I’d get a text at 9:00 at night some nights asking, ‘Hey coach, is there still a chance I can get some shots in?’ That’s the kind of team it was.”
The Cougars were led by Johnson, who averaged 17.9 points, five rebounds, four assists and 2.2 steals and Isaac Jessup, a second team All-State selection, who averaged 16.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists and a team-best 4.9 steals. In total, it was a group of eight seniors who knew they had the potential to do something special even when they were freshmen.
“We had such a good, talented class,” Johnson said. “We knew what we had and the coaches said we had to work for it and through the years we just grinded together.”
All of that hard work didn’t pay off in the form of an official state championship, but Resurrection was still recognized nationally for their accomplishment. The Cougars were featured on SportsCenter’s Senior Night series, which was started by ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt to honor teams and individuals who saw their seasons ended early by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was cool for someone like ESPN to do the Senior Night thing and be able to recognize what we did,” Johnson said. “It was definitely special.”
While there are no official boys basketball state champions in Colorado this year because the tournament wasn’t finished, it’s Dick’s opinion that the National Federation of State High School Associations and the Colorado High School Activities Association should still name champions for this past season.
“Given the circumstances, we couldn’t do anything more,” Dick said.
But even with no championship trophy to display at the school, the Cougars will be remembered for their perfect season, albeit with an imperfect ending.
“I’ll remember all of us working so hard for our goal,” Johnson said, “and while we worked so hard we enjoyed it too, and we didn’t take anything for granted.”