The 4A and 5A Final Four came to an exciting conclusion Thursday night amid a virtually empty Coliseum. With four teams gearing up for their shot at a state title on Saturday, CHSAA pulled the plug leaving many with unanswered questions and a championship void.
At the 4A level, the Mullen Mustangs and Berthoud Spartans took overtime to determine a winner for what would have been Saturday’s 4A Finals. The reigning 4A champions, Mullen, overcame an early deficit to ultimately advance in the extra frame by a final score of 64-57.
Junior Megan Pohs ended her season with the Mustangs with 30 points, shooting five-for-eleven from beyond the arc. Fellow junior, Abby Webster was automatic from three-point land shooting a perfect three-for-three and capping her season with 12 points. Sophomore Imani Perez was one point shy of a double-double, finishing her season with nine points, and ten rebounds.
Berthoud’s players did not go down without a fight. Early on, it looked as if the Spartans might dethrone the defending champions, but the valiant efforts of junior Breanna Fowler, sophomore Ally Padilla, and senior Celsey Selland were not enough. Fowler finished her season with a team-high 21-points, four rebounds, and three assists. Padilla was next in line with 14-points, three rebounds, and one assist. Selland ended her Spartan career with nine points and seven rebounds.
Slow and steady proved to be the formula needed in 4A’s second game of the night. The Holy Family Tigers took on the Green Mountain Rams, with the Tigers holding on to advance to the 4A Finals with a 38-31 victory.
Juniors Alyssa Wells and Cecelia Aaneru led the charge for the Tigers Thursday night. Wells finished with a game-high 13-points in addition to her four rebounds and two assists. Aaneru also came up just short of a double-double in 4A’s final game of the year with nine points and 11 rebounds.
The Rams came up just short, but found production from nearly every player on the team. Junior Courtney Hank was the team’s leading scorer with eight points, six rebounds, and one assist. Senior Kasey Klocek fouled out late with five points and four rebounds. Two other girls finished with five points, and two more with four.
The final games of the night led to what would have been an eventual rematch of last year’s 5A title game. The Grandview Wolves came back to stun the Valor Christian Eagles by a final score of 49-42, thanks to a lights out performance by sophomore Marya Hudgins. The Cherry Creek Bruins handedly defeated Highlands Ranch in a rematch of their own Final Four game from last year. The Bruins once again got the advantage, however, this year in a more convincing fashion, with a final score of 55-42.
Hudgins went five-for five from beyond the arc, finishing with 17-points to accompany her two rebounds. Sophomore Lauren Betts found her groove and settled in underneath the net, finishing with a game-high 21-points and 11 rebounds giving her a double-double in Grandview’s final game of the year.
The Eagles high-octane offense stumbled at the end, but it was not without times of looking prepared to make the jump to the 5A Finals. Sophomore Raegan Beers looked extremely comfortable defending Betts, who stands five inches taller. Beers’ season came to an end with a team-high 14-points and a game-high 15 rebounds. University of Colorado commit, junior Kindyll Wetta looked sharp contributing ten points, three rebounds, and one assist.
Thursday’s final game of the night punched the ticket back to the 5A Finals for Cherry Creek in what would have been their third match-up against Centennial League rival Grandview, and a rematch of last year’s title game. However, they once again needed to get past Highlands Ranch to do so.
Behind the double-double of senior Cali Clark, 20-points and 11 rebounds, the Bruins looked poised and had their eye on a repeat. Junior KaCee Kyle finished the night with 12-points and six rebounds, once again shining under the Coliseum lights. Stanford commit and Colorado’s number one player in the state, Jana Van Gytenbeek finished her Bruins’ career with 11-points, seven assists, and two rebounds.
Up-and-coming star, sophomore Taylor Ray has shown an incredible leap in her game from last year. Ray finished her night with a team-high 17-points and eight rebounds. Junior Payton Muma looks ready to take the reigns from Van Gytenbeek as the best guard in the state, as she enters her senior season following her 11-point and four-rebound output.
While it is disappointing to not see the 4A and 5A winners square off Saturday, the reasoning behind the tournament cancellation is sound. With players, coaches, referees, and spectators health and safety at the forefront, CHSAA made the difficult decision to call off the remainder of the state tournament with no decided champions. It is an incredibly tough pill to swallow, but all the players gave it their all and finished the 2019-2020 season strong.
And with that, I am signing off as your Girls Basketball Colorado contributor. It has been a blast covering teams from across the state of Colorado for the past two years and beyond, including my coverage of boys hoops. Thank you all for the memories and witnessing athletes deserving of a shot to compete at the next level and beyond.
It’s been a blast!