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Bryce Riehl scores 30 points to lead Mesa Ridge past Windsor to win second straight Class 5A title

Windsor was tough. But Mesa Ridge’s Bryce Riehl was tougher.

When the Wizards cut the Grizzlies’ 15-point lead down to 34-33 in the third quarter, Riehl nailed a 3-pointer to push his team up by four.

When Windsor trailed by three in the fourth, Riehl’s layup kissed off the backboard to give Mesa Ridge a 50-45 advantage with 4:53 to go.

Riehl had ice in his veins, finishing with 30 points and 12 rebounds to help Mesa Ridge defeat Windsor, 57-53, on Saturday afternoon and capture the program’s second straight Class 5A title at the Denver Coliseum.

The Grizzlies are the third boys team since 2015 to win back-to-back championships, joining ThunderRidge (2021-2022) and Overland (2015-2016).

“I’m proud of him. He scored 30 points in a championship game,” Riehl’s brother, Tevin, said. “He has so many great things ahead of him.”

Mesa Ridge coach Joel Babbitt — overwhelmed with joy — couldn’t believe Bryce’s 30-point effort.

“Bryce, you had 30?” Babbitt asked him.

“Something like that,” Bryce, a junior guard, responded.

Babbitt called Bryce a tough player who has been instrumental in the Grizzlies’ championship run. In the semifinal win against Northfield, he had 25 points, five rebounds and four steals.

On Friday, it didn’t take long for Bryce to make his presence felt. He registered 16 points (11 in the opening quarter) and eight rebounds in the first half.

“He’s unbelievable,” Babbitt said.

Mesa Ridge’s defense was instrumental in its impressive start. The Grizzlies held Windsor without a field goal until the 1:18 mark of the first quarter while forcing eight turnovers, including five steals.

While the Wizards struggled to score, Mesa Ridge did not. The Grizzlies used a 19-3 scoring run to take a 13-point advantage at the end of the quarter.

In the second, Windsor tried to cut into the deficit, but the Grizzlies always had a response. After John Backhaus made a layup to trim the lead to 13, Bryce did his best Peyton Manning impression by throwing the ball across the court to Brian Lamar Jr. for a layup.

Moments later, Bryce buried a 3-pointer to give Mesa Ridge a 16-point advantage. With 25 seconds left in the quarter, he stole the ball before driving to the rim for a layup. The Grizzlies went into the locker room with a 31-16 lead.

Windsor looked like a completely different team in the third. Wizards sophomore Madden Smiley scored seven points in the opening four minutes. Later, Johnathan Reed buried a 3-pointer and then converted a layup to make it a one-point game with three minutes left.

Bryce, however, scored eight points in the final three minutes of the quarter to keep the Grizzlies in front.

“We are disciplined… Everyone on the team was ready for the moment,” he said.

Windsor made one last push for a comeback. Tevin scored on a fastbreak layup before Windsor’s Tadese Keyworth pump-faked before draining a 3-pointer to cut Mesa Ridge’s lead to 55-53 with three seconds left.

But Bryce secured the victory when he converted a pair of free throws and stole the ball as the clock expired.

“The toughness in my kids showed up throughout the playoffs. I’m just overwhelmed,” Babbitt said. “It’s a dream to get one championship, and we just got two.”

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