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Wednesday, June 7, 2023
June 7, 2023

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Seton Catholic prevails in rematch against La Center to reach 1A state regional

Cougars take first lead late in the fourth quarter, hold on for 55-51 win

By , Columbian staff writer

CASTLE ROCK — Turns out, madness isn’t exclusive to March.

In a winner-to-state, loser-out Class 1A district playoff game, a Trico League rematch between La Center and Seton Catholic delivered on the drama and compelling moments.

Seton Catholic, despite trailing La Center for all but two minutes and change in the fourth quarter, pulled out a 55-51 win to earn the final berth out of District 4 for next week’s state regional round.

It was a setting all too familiar for the Cougars after suffering a season-ending loss to King’s Way Christian at last year’s district playoffs while the Knights moved on to state.

This season, thanks to a 25-point effort from senior Jack Jenniges, Rico George adding 14 points and clutch free throws in the final 30 seconds from Lance Lee and Brady Angelo, the Cougars are going to state for the first time since 2020.

“That was what we’ve been working for all year,” said Jenniges, a senior. “That was our motivation in the offseason —  make state. We’re not losing in the third-place game again, and this time we didn’t.”

“The feeling that (King’s Way) gave us when they knocked us out, I mean, it hurt,” Lee added. “We were working all offseason, and now, it paid off.”

To get there, Seton Catholic had to chase down a hungry La Center team that, quite simply, played harder and shot better in the first half than Seton.

The Wildcats took a 28-19 lead into halftime, then pushed the advantage to 13 points with scores from Colby Hylton (10 points) and Jayce Grotte (11 points) to start the third quarter.

“Their intensity level this year (and) in this game, it brought out the best out in us too,” Seton Catholic coach Aaron Jenniges said. “It took every ounce of energy.”

Midway through the third, the Cougars started to make La Center uncomfortable offensively and manufactured some offense of their own.

A 13-2 Seton Catholic run cut La Center’s lead down to 35-32 with 90 seconds left in the period.

“It was really the defensive pressure in the second half,” Aaron Jenniges said. “We turned that up a lot. And it wasn’t any kind of scheme thing; it was just, you guys have to play harder.”

To start the fourth quarter, the Cougars turned to Jack Jenniges, who was fighting to keep his final high school season alive.

After the team’s other senior, Breckin Miller, went to the bench in foul trouble, the Cougars had four sophomores on the floor alongside Jenniges.

They fed their 6-foot-6 senior to the tune of nine straight points to open the quarter, including two game-tying baskets.

“Our strength coach, he’s always like, don’t get comfortable, it’s all in your head,” Jack Jenniges said. “If we’re losing a game it’s not because we’re not better; it’s because we’re getting in our own heads. We came into halftime, we came into the locker room and we saw some of their players dancing going to the locker room thinking they already had it. We were like, ‘uh-uh, we’re coming back.’”

That stretch paved the way for a go-ahead layup from George with 2 minutes, 51 seconds remaining for Seton Catholic’s first lead of the game.

La Center regained the lead, 51-50 on a Hylton layup with under two minutes left.

Lee was fouled more than a minute later with a chance to take the lead from the free-throw line. He calmly hit both, then grabbed a steal on the Wildcats’ next possession, drew another foul and sank two more free throws with 15 seconds left.

“I just didn’t think. I just shot them. Routine free throws,” Lee said. “The crowd was going crazy, but I just kept my composure and knocked them down.”

Angelo added two more free throws to put the game out of reach. The Cougars went 20-of-23 at the line all combined.


LA CENTER — Colby Hylton 10, Garrett Maunu 0, Clayton Muffett 0, Cody Gardner 6, Austin Nixon 7, Jayce Grotte 11, Logan Rainey 8, Anthony Larkin 3, Boston Walker 6. Totals 18 (7) 11-18 51.

SETON CATHOLIC — Ryker Ruelas 2, Brady Angelo 8, Rico George 14, Lance Lee 6, Breckin Miller 0, Jack Jenniges 25. Totals 16 (3) 20-23 55.

La Center 14 14 11 12—51

Seton 5 14 15 21—55