There was no upset to be had for the 2019-20 Durango High School boys basketball team.
After the Demons sneaked into the Colorado High School Activities Association Class 4A Boys Basketball State Tournament as the No. 42 seed, they traveled to Colorado Springs to take on No. 23 Sand Creek on Tuesday night in the opening round.
DHS (10-14) was within 12-8 after one quarter, but an 18-0 run to open the second quarter by the host Scorpions (16-8) followed by a 23-7 advantage in the third quarter helped send the higher seed to a 70-32 victory and through to the second round of the tournament.
“The boys executed the game plan, but again we played Durango High School. We’ve played ourselves at least three or four times this season, and we’ve lost every game,” DHS head coach Alan Batiste said. “You can’t play against yourself. It was about fundamentals, stepping through double teams, moving fast and quick, but we didn’t do it.”
DHS would trail 35-13 at halftime and 58-20 after three quarters. Anthony Flint led the Demons with 14 points, as he made three 3-pointers in the first half. Jordan Woolverton finished with six points and played through a lower-leg injury.
In the second quarter, Durango turned the ball over nine times in 12 possessions, and that led to 18 Sand Creek points. The self-inflicted errors were too much to overcome, even in a quiet gym for a playoff atmosphere.
“This was good for our young guys to get the experience of this environment,” Batiste said. “The Sand Creek crowd is either spoiled or was looking for dunks or something, but they were quiet. It wasn’t a playoff environment at all. It was only a playoff environment because the caliber team we played. The young guys got experience against that, which will be key moving forward.”
Batiste said the game reminded him of a 51-30 loss in the second round of the state playoffs at Sierra in his second season coaching the team in 2012.
“That game, it was 8-8 at the end of the first quarter, and then we had like 12 to 13 turnovers and it was 28-8 after the second quarter,” he said. “It was the same exact story. We weren’t giving them a lot of 3s; they were getting layups off turnovers for easy buckets. That was the game.”
The Scorpions will now face No. 10 Pueblo West (17-6) on Saturday at 4 p.m. in Pueblo.
Durango will lose five seniors but will return much of the roster next season. After a 21-5 season during 2016-17 in which the Demons were denied a shot at the Great 8 of the state tournament by an Evergreen buzzer-beater that came after time had expired in regulation, Durango has averaged 10 wins and gone 1-7 the last two years in the 5A/4A Southwestern League. Batiste is eager for better results next year.
“We will go to tougher tournaments next year at Centauri and Pueblo South and face teams that are more similar to what we see in league out here,” he said. “We knew it was going to be three hard years to building it back up after we had that chance at a Great 8. I am proud of this group this season, and I know they had fun. That’s all that matters. Now, we move forward and get ready for the offseason.”