LOVELAND — Bruce Dick has been the winning coach for nearly 600 high school basketball games and a state title.
Tanner Ervin, Luke Fick and the rest of the Resurrection Christian boys basketball team weren’t yet born when their coach won his championship.
But some feelings are the same, no matter how young or old, experienced or fresh-faced you are.
Bitter, heart-breaking defeats in the biggest of games feel about the same to everyone.
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Dick and his Resurrection Christian team still feel the lingering effects of an overtime loss last season to Sanford in the Class 2A title game.
“I was not in a good mood. I was really upset,” said Fick, a senior.
“I’m still not used to it,” said Ervin, a sharpshooting junior.
“There’s a few games over your career that stand out on both the positive and negative endings. That’s one that’s definitely stayed with me,” said Dick, who previously coached at Rocky Mountain. “You get over it, somewhat, but you never forget it. It’s been a motivational factor for me as well.”
The loss to Sanford turned a dream season into a nightmare end as the Cougars finished 25-1 and 2A runners-up.
That led to this season. In some ways it’s the similar as a year ago. RCS is 23-0 and often dominates opponents, only once scoring fewer than 70 points and averaging 83 per game.
All season long the team has focused on this week, when the Cougars return to the 2A state tournament. They’re the No. 2 seed and face No. 7 Rye (21-3) in the Great Eight at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at CSU-Pueblo. If they win, the semifinal is 5:30 p.m. Friday and the title-game would be 7 p.m. Saturday.
While the record and many of the numbers are the same as a year ago, there’s a different feel.
“Last year was more, ‘Wow, we’re excited to be here.’ Now it’s more like a mission,” said Ervin, who leads the team in scoring at 24 points per game. “After districts it was like, ‘Let’s get down to business.'”
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One week after the Sanford game the team returned to the gym in droves, committed to erasing the disappointing loss.
Dick calls them “a joy to coach” and a highly motivated and self-disciplined group that does everything pretty well. Ervin can score a variety of ways, Fick is always the most athletic player on the floor andMichael Stevenson is a master creator and efficient scorer.
The list goes on and on. The team is strong defensively and so selfless that Dick says they sometimes share the ball too much. A nice problem for a coach to have.
Dick says this is the best eight-team field he’s seen in his time at RCS and knows the path back to the title game, where back-to-back champions and also undefeated Sanford likely waits, won’t be easy.
He also knows that the success to get to this point isn’t easy.
“You don’t take it for granted. You count your blessings and say, ‘Let’s go have fun, and make the most of the moment,” Dick said.
Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle.