Regis Jesuit secured the Continental League title Tuesday night defeating Highlands Ranch in overtime. Savitri Jackson, a freshman guard, knocked down the game-winning shot as time expired giving the Raiders a 37-35 victory.
In what was an unusually low scoring game for both teams, it was obvious scouting reports were well executed. Regis Jesuit was able to put pressure on Highlands Ranch’s normally high-flying offense and slow them down. Offensively, the Raiders were strong in the paint, utilizing their size to gather second-chance opportunities.
The first half ended rather unceremoniously with Regis taking an 18-12 lead into the break. Both teams stalled in the second as scoring came to a standstill for nearly three minutes.
However, Avery Van Sickle and Samantha Jones continued to plug away, finding ways to score difficult baskets. Nifty footwork by Van Sickle freed her up with a crossover to step-back two-pointer to end the half.
After the break, Highlands Ranch was determined to break through the relentless Regis pressure on both ends of the court. Guards Payton Muma and Sarah Mitchell took over for the Falcons, bringing them back to within a single point to end the third. The duo combined for 12 of the Falcons 14 points in the frame as their defense supported them, holding Regis to just nine points.
The fourth quarter began with a bang. Both teams with highlight plays capped off with a 3-pointer by sophomore Taylor Ray to give Highlands Ranch the lead. The lead was short-lived as the Raiders scored on their following possession.
Ray once again gave the Falcons the lead and for the next three minutes, the Falcons played keep away, frustrating the Regis team. Van Sickle called out to her teammates to foul, showing tremendous game awareness knowing that they were only a handful of fouls away from putting the Falcons in the bonus.
Mitchell went to the line with 1:25 remaining for a one-and-one attempt, and an opportunity for Regis to get the ball back. The Raiders did just that as Mitchell missed her first shot and junior Gracie Weigand tied the game at 31 points. The score would hold to the buzzer sending the teams into overtime.
The extra frame was all that was needed to settle the Continental League title. Highlands Ranch struck first with a floater by Muma over Jones. On the ensuing Regis possession, Jones found the bottom of the net following her own shot. The teams each traded a basket before Van Sickle found Jackson streaking to the basket. Jackson sent the crowd to the court as her layup dropped as time expired, sending the Raiders home as the 2019-2020 Continental League Champions.
The Falcons struggled Tuesday night but showed great patience and determination to hand in there. Eventually, they were able to fight their way back to take the lead, but keep away ultimately did them in as they could not regain a consistent rhythm. Payton Muma finished with a team-high 12 points. Sarah Mitchell and Taylor Ray were right behind her with eight points each.
The Raiders scouted Highlands Ranch incredibly well and knew the key to victory was to shut down Muma. Regis did just that with stellar defensive efforts from Gracie Weigand and Savitri Jackson who smothered Muma and the Falcons. Avery Van Sickle led the game with 15 points and the game-winning assist to Jackson who ended her night with three points, none bigger than the game-winner. Samantha Jones and Jada Moore finished the game with eight and seven points respectively to round out the Raiders’ top-three scorers.