Wray defeats Sanford for second championship in three years
BY: Jonathan Maness for CHSAANow.com
LOVELAND – The Wray basketball team overcame a 13-point deficit to win the 2023 Class 2A boys basketball championship.
The No. 4-seeded Eagles outscored No. 7 Sanford 24-7 in the final 10 minutes of the contest to rally to a 45-41 victory.
“I’ll be honest, we had the jitters to start the game,” said Wray captain Chris Arambula, who led all scorers with 15 points. “We worked too hard to get here and so we stepped it up down the stretch.”
In a game where each player gave it their all, the senior from Wray gave it all on every possession.
He fought for loose balls, pressured the ball, and also hit big time shots down the stretch for his team.
“This was my last basketball game, I wanted to go out on top and give it my all,” the senior said.
With the victory, Wray became the first school to win the state title in both wrestling and boys basketball in the same season since Alamosa in1992.
The Eagles’ coach Chris Rose told his team going into the playoffs that they wanted to go 8-0 in the postseason, and he got his wish as the Wray squad raised its second title in the school history. Wray won the title in 2021.
“I’m on a high right now,” Rose said. “We knew we were going to do this, I’m proud of the guys. They are very dedicated and are just ball-chasers.”
The coach did have to adjust to slow Sanford’s high-powered offense in the second half. Rose switched to a full-court press in the third quarter and the adjustment paid off as the Mustangs only made four field goals the rest of the way.
“I have a great coaching staff and we decided to make the adjustment and (Sanford) couldn’t figure it out,” Rose said.
With the extra defensive pressure, The Eagles went on a 16-3 run to start the fourth. Rafael Trejo made a pair of baskets and then Arambula got going. The senior hit back-to-back threes to give Wray a 38-37 advantage of 4 minutes left in the contest.
“I just wanted to win for my teammates,” Arambula said. “We went into the postseason with the mindset of one game at a time and that paid off.”
The Eagles opened the game with two quick baskets from Trejo and AB Ruiz, Arambula added a trey to push Wray’s lead to 7-5. Ben Sittler scored five quick points and Justin McCarroll made a pair of baskets to help Sanford go up 13-10 after the first.
Sanford’s big man McCray Larsen began to make his presence felt in the second quarter. The 6-foot-4 senior defended the rim on one side and then scored a 3-point play on the other to push the Mustangs lead to seven. Craig Ford hit a trey to extend the advantage to 27-17 after two quarters.
Larsen added two more baskets in the third quarter to push the lead to 13 for Sanford, but Larsen only had one point the rest of the way. Baskets by Ruiz and Trejo cut the lead to 34-27 after three quarters.
It was the second year in a row that Sanford lost in the state title match.
“They are a good team, I just think we wanted it more,” Arambula said.
Joey Uyemura also had 10 points for Wray, while Sittler led Sanford with 11 and Larsen chipped in 10.