PUEBLO -- There’s no question Thomas Jefferson High School’s boys basketball team is loaded with talent and athletic ability.
Those attributes were too much for Pueblo South, the top seed in the Class 4A Maceo Brodnax Region, to handle.
Treyvon Andres poured in 23 points and Jalen Rose added 22 points off the bench, powering the No. 4-seeded Spartans to a 71-66 upset of the Colts in the Sweet 16 at the Southwest Motors Events Center.
“Our coach (Grant Laman) gave us some good pointers at halftime and we moved the ball more and that helped us get this big win,” Andres said.
Thomas Jefferson (17-8) advances to play Denver South (17-8) in the Great 8 March 8 at the Denver Coliseum. The Colts (22-3) had their season and 20-game winning streak come to an end.
TJ and Denver South split games this season. The Spartans won 59-57 on Jan. 15 and Denver South claimed a 71-64 victory on Jan. 31. Denver South defeated Greeley Central 75-60 Saturday.
“I think this year if we played Denver South 50 times it would be 25-25,” Laman said. “We’re excited to be in the Great 8 to see what we can do.”
The Colts actually had a 39-34 halftime edge on strength of seven 3-pointers, three from Brian Pratt who had a team-high 19 points.
“(Pueblo) South hit so many 3s in the first half,” Laman said. “I told the kids, hopefully they can’t do that again (in the second half). We just tried to change up our zone which really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when they were shooting that well, but it slowed them down just enough.”
South still had the momentum when Isiah Pannunzio’s bucket put his team up 46-38 at the 5:35 mark of the third quarter.
The Spartans answered with a 10-0 run to grab a 48-46 lead on Rose’s conventional 3-point play at 2:06 of the third quarter.
Both teams stepped up defensively and when Pratt made a driving lay-up, the Colts trailed just 58-56 with just 2:52 to play.
That’s when the 6-foot-7 Andres and 6-foot-5 Rose took control each converting 3-point plays on the Spartans’ next two possessions. Rose’s free throw with 2:04 left on the clock put TJ up 64-57.
“I was just trying to stay focused and stay in my zone,” Rose, a junior, said. “If my team needs me to score I will score. If my team needs me to rebound and play defense that’s what I will do. I just wanted to do whatever possible to help my team win.”
The Colts tried to make a frantic comeback and cut the deficit to 67-64 on Bryson Smith’s trey with 33.9 seconds remaining.
“Once we got behind, we had to force the tempo a little bit and change kind of what we were doing defensively,” South coach D. J. Johnson said. “We didn’t rebound very well in the fourth quarter. They got a lot of easy buckets off of putbacks. I also don’t think we did a very good job of keeping our composure at times.”
The Spartans secured the victory when Sergio Garcia and Domenik Brewer made four consecutive free throws. Brewer’s came with 22.8 seconds left to put TJ ahead 71-66.
Thomas Jefferson made 8-of-9 free throws in the fourth quarter.
“We practice our free throws a lot and that made a difference (Saturday),” Andres said.