Rangeview junior Christopher Speller splits the Mountain Vista defense on his way to a layup during the first half of a Class 5A Final Four boys state basketball playoff game on March 8, 2019. Speller scored 14 points in the first half and 21 for the game to lead the third-seeded Raiders to a 62-51 win over the second-seeded Golden Eagles. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel)

DENVER | McNichols Arena is a distant memory and Chauncey Billups graduated from George Washington High School, played two seasons at the University of Colorado and played a stellar 17-year career in the NBA.

That’s how much has happened in the time since the Rangeview boys basketball team has played for a state championship back in 1992-93, but Raiders coach Shawn Palmer remembers it well.

A sophomore at now non-existant Silver State Baptist High School, Palmer was in the stands at McNichols Arena — the former home of the Denver Nuggets that was demolished in 1999 — to watch Billups and the Patriots play a team he didn’t know.

“I certainly wasn’t there to watch Rangeview,” Palmer joked.

At these years later, Palmer not only ended up on the sidelines as head coach, but he has now led the Raiders back to the state championship game. Rangeview got there with its rousing 62-51 victory over second-seeded Mountain Vista Friday night at the Denver Coliseum.

The third-seeded Raiders (25-2) — now owners of an 18-game winning streak — turn around to face top-seeded and 23-4 Chaparral (a winner over No. 5 ThunderRidge in the other semifinal) at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

As long as its taken Rangeview to make it back to the state championship game, it’s been even longer since the program won its only title, which came back in 1984-85.

The Raiders have their chance to end that drought thanks to a strong victory over Mountain Vista, fueled by a big performance from junior Christopher Speller, who went for a game-high 21 points.

Senior Quincey Jewett had 13 points and 22 rebounds, junior Christian Speller added 12 and junior Isaiah Hayes provided a spark off the bench for the second straight game with nine second-half points for Rangeview.

Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Sentinel Prep Sports

(3) RANGEVIEW 62, (2) MOUNTAIN VISTA 51

Score by quarters:

Rangeview  17  11  15  19 — 62

Mtn. Vista   13    8  11  19 — 51

RANGEVIEW (62)

Cade Palmer 0 0-0 0, Jodaun Dotson 0 7-12 7, Christopher Speller 9 3-8 21, Quincey Jewett 6 1-3 13, Christian Speller 4 4-7 12, Isaiah Hayes 3 2-3 9, Obi Agbim 0 0-0 0, Kamren Stroter 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 17-35 62.

MOUNTAIN VISTA (51)

Simon May 3 4-4 11, Eric Kimmell 0 0-0 0, Corban Gamble 2 2-2 6, Ben Grusing 6 2-2 16, Rhys Pulling 3 0-0 6, Spencer Thomas 2 0-1 4, Ben Bowen 1 0-0 3, Luke Boeyink 1 1-3 3, Reece Kelly 1 0-0 2, McClain Easton 0 0-0 0, JJ Fisch 0 0-0 0, Nathan Miller 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 9-12 51.

3-point field goals — Rangeview: Isaiah Hayes; Mountain Vista (4): Ben Grusing 2, Rhys Pulling, Simon May. Total fouls — Rangeview 11, Mountain Vista 23. Fouled outMountain Vista: Luke Boeyink, Pulling. Technical fouls — None.