COLORADO SPRINGS — It looked like Doherty was going to cruise to a second-straight Class 5A Colorado Springs Metro League title, but Rampart just wasn't going to make it that easy.
The Rams charged back in the second half, but a 22-point cushion proved to be just enough as the Spartans walked off the visiting floor with a 79-74 win, once again staking their claim as league champs.
"I knew that we were capable of scoring on them in their zone and their man," Doherty coach Jarris Krapcha said. "I'm confident in our group of guys and I thought we were the better team."
Krapcha stood outside the Spartans' (17-3 overall, 10-0 CSML) locker room in a crisp t-shirt celebrating the team as "Back 2 Back" league champs. One by one, the players filed out with smiles on their faces, but it very well could've been a celebration that would've had to wait a few more days.
Doherty went into halftime with a 51-29 lead. It seemed like Brevin Brimble couldn't miss as he equaled the Rams (15-6, 7-3) scoring output in the first 16 minutes.
On the flip side, Rampart seemed of sync and in their own heads in that span. The Spartans had a 13-9 lead when Cal Zeb Roberson was slapped with a technical foul. Doherty took advantage, going on a 7-0 run following the call.
"We played scared and intimidated," Rampart coach J'on St. Clair said. "Before we got the technical it was close. So yeah, it hurt us. Hurt the momentum."
They dominated the rest of the first half with Brimble scoring 29 of his game-high 34 in the first two quarters.
"We just needed to keep doing what we were doing," Brimble said. "We knew in the second half, we might not hit all the shots we were in the first."
That might be the understatement of the week.
The Rams came out firing while Doherty went ice cold. Rampart senior Jackson Ehrlin, fresh off a 49-point performance against Liberty, scored seven of his team-high 26 in the third helping Rampart to a 25-9 advantage to come out of halftime.
Entering the fourth quarter, what looked as close as possible to a sure-fire win for the Spartans had turned into a competitive basketball game.
"(I was) pretty concerned," Krapcha said. "I thought our defense just dropped off. It's tough, we had a big lead at half and we relaxed defensively."
And Brimble went cold. After scoring 29 in the first half, he would only connect on one more field goal for the rest of the game. So guys like Kyrele Benford and Emmanuel Burleson had to step up as the Rams were coming back.
Benford ended with 15 and Burleson scored 10.
"We just count on each other and keep each other strong," Benford said. "We hold each other accountable and we have each other's back."
And when that happens, league championships can be clinched. Both Rampart and Doherty came into Thursday's game in the top 10 of the 5A RPI. With a league championship in hand and a top 10 rating, Doherty is looking at prime seed for the playoffs, but they still want to finish the regular season strong.
"I think we need to finish league first," Brimble said. "Once we know what seed we are we can start to focus on that exact team."