In yesterday’s final day of the Best in the Nest Tournament at Horizon High School, the Arapahoe Warriors faced the Valor Christian Eagles in the 3rdplace game. Entering the game, both teams had shown their ability to compete against two top five teams, Grandview and Horizon, however, both came up short in their bid to the finals.
From the start it was apparent that Valor Christian wanted to wear down the Warriors. By playing at a high level on either end of the court, the Eagles did just that. Smothering defense on one end feeding quick break out passes on the other broke open the scoring. Heading into the second quarter, Valor held a 10-point, 16-6 lead over Arapahoe.
The second quarter progressed mush of the same with both teams scoring nearly identical totals from the first. As the half came to a close, Valor Christian held a comfortable 32-14 lead over Arapahoe. Their success came from a pair of young players, sophomore Kindyll Wetta and freshman Raegan Beers. As a court general Wetta controlled her offense, while Beers showed dominance in the paint on both ends. To end the half, the pair scored 22 of the Eagles 32 points, 12 and 10 respectively. In comparison, Arapahoe was held to just five points from the field in the quarter, all scored by junior Kali March who finished the game with a team high, 10 points.
Arapahoe shifted their strategy to open the 3rd, mimicking the full court pressure of Valor Christian and deep outlet passes to set up their offense with fast break attempts. Despite their efforts, Arapahoe was unable to connect on multiple attempts while Valor capitalized with high percentage shots inside by Beers, and Wetta’s ability to not only score, but help set up others. The third quarter came to an end behind a falling layup attempt by Wetta as time expired to push the Eagles lead to 24-points, 50-26.
Valor extended their lead to a game-high 32-points with 4:40 remaining, leading 60-28. By this point, head coach, Jessika Caldwell sat her starters to prevent injury and to allow her other young players to gain more experience. The Eagles should be pleased with their young players as they scored 18 in the 4thwhile holding Arapahoe to 13 as they made a final push to close the gap. In the end, the Valor Christian Eagles claimed 3rdplace following a dominant 68-39 victory.
In talking with Coach Caldwell, she made it clear a huge hurdle for her squad was their youth. They have one returning senior, Sara Nealy, compared to seven sophomores. Another challenge they face this year is in making the jump from 4A to 5A. Despite sitting in the fourth, Kindyll Wetta finished with a game-high 23 points. Freshman Raegan Beers made her efforts in the paint look easy with multiple blocks and rebounds in addition to her 21-point game. Wetta and Beers were named to the All-Tournament Team for Valor Christian. This young core is a threat to 5A teams who may be underestimating Valor Christian.
Juniors Kali March and Marley Delaney led the way for the Warriors scoring ten and seven respectively. The Warriors showed grit and determination despite the loss. Arapahoe comes into the season with one of the oldest returning squads and their experience should help them down the line.