Lakewood's playoff run honors former star

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There were less than 30 seconds left in Lakewood's 61-49 upset victory over top-seeded Highlands Ranch in the girls Class 5A basketball quarterfinal state playoff game when Tigers center Camilla Emsbo started crying.

They were tears of joy and tears of remembrance for former Lakewood standout Mackenzie Forrest, who died in an automobile accident on March 13, 2016.

"This was for Little Mac (Forrest)," Emsbo said. "I started crying with like 20 seconds left. Everybody knows she is up there and I'm so happy. This was all she wanted. I'm so glad we could give it to her."

Emsbo, a 6-foot-4 junior, wore different colored socks in the March 3 game.

"That was her thing, crazy socks," she said. "We didn't all wear them tonight but home games we all have crazy socks. I wanted to keep it going."

In the Final Four, Lakewood plays Cherry Creek at 8:30 p.m. March 9 at the Denver Coliseum.

Coaching carousel

Joe Johnson, of ThunderRidge, and Corey McNellis, of Ponderosa, have been icons at their respective schools.

Both, however, have stepped down as head coaches at the schools.

Johnson, who has been a football coach at ThunderRidge for 18 years, 17 as head coach, is leaving to take over the football program at Cherokee Trail and become the Cougars' third head coach in three years.

McNellis, a two-time state champion at Ponderosa, has been the Mustangs' head wrestling coach for the past 10 seasons and has coached at the Parker school for 18 years. He still works as a dean at the school, but is looking to land a position as an assistant principal/athletic director.

"I have been either a competitor or coach in this sport since I was 4-years-old," McNellis said. "It's time to experience life without wrestling."

Meanwhile, Rock Canyon announced that Brian Tinker is the school's new head football coach replacing Brian Lamb and taking over a team that went 3-7 during the 2016 season.

Tinker was head coach at Fossil Ridge in Fort Collins in 2014 and 2015 and made the state playoffs both seasons with 5-5 records. His contract was not renewed in March of 2016, and his removal sparked protests from players and parents.

Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at jbenton@coloradocommunitymedia.com or at 303-566-4083.

Jim Benton

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