DENVER — Colorado Springs Christian captured a repeat championship victory this season after defeating Alamosa 57-43 on Saturday to win the Class 3A state tournament at the Denver Coliseum.
Alamosa junior Ryan Brubacher, in usual fashion, put the first points on the scoreboard with a three, opening a shooting game from the Mean Moose. But on the other end, points out of the paint were consistent.
CSCS senior Sam Howard turned and found the hoop nearly every time his hands touched the ball, tallying 15 points in just the first half. The Alamosa double- and triple-team efforts were no match to the size and skill of the 6-foot-7 center. He scored 20 points in the Lions' rout.
And his hands worked on defensive end, too, shutting out Alamosa drives and forcing outside shots that suddenly seized to drop.
At the half, the Lions had a ten-point edge of 30-20. In the third quarter, Howard was quiet, but his teammates had no trouble scoring, extending their lead by seven in the first minute of second half play.
The Lions began to pull away easily for the rest of the game, with shots from junior Justin Engesser adding up matched with quick stops at the other end. Engesser, the son of coach Mark Engesser, finished with 18.
"We started off really strong and had an unbelievable defensive performance," Justin Engesser said. "We settled in and our offensive scoring came off our defense. Alamosa plays harder than anyone and thats why they are here, so we had to match that."
The Mean Moose made a small run towards the end, led by senior forward Marco Garcia (21 points) but they had too a big hole to crawl out of. The Lions finished with a 24-point victory to claim back-to-back titles.
"This year was an absolute grind," said Mark Engesser of his team's second victory in a row.
"Last year, the championship run came easier," Engesser said, "but as the No. 11 seed this time, every game was a battle. Against Faith Christian which was an amazing victory, then a tough game against Manitou, and then against Lutheran. It was just hard work the whole way."