On paper, the game between fourth-seeded Cherry Creek and fifth seed Fossil Ridge appeared to be the best Great 8 game scheduled for March 1 at the Denver Coliseum.
And it was. Cherry Creek held on to post a 51-47 victory in the final of four games in the Class 5A girls basketball state tournament.
The three earlier games were lopsided as top-seeded Highlands Ranch rolled to a 53-23 win over Broomfield, Grandview upset No. 3 seed Valor Christian, 62-45, and second-seeded Regis Jesuit cruised to a 68-37 victory over Horizon.
Cherry Creek (22-4) will face Highlands Ranch (25-1) in an 8:30 p.m. semifinal game on March 7 at the Denver Coliseum. It will be the third time the teams have played this season, and the Falcons won the first two games, 58-49 and 64-58.
Turnovers prevented Creek from capitalizing on second- and third-quarter leads, plus the Bruins were hampered by foul trouble.
The Bruins junior scoring leader, guard Jana Van Gytenbeek, fouled out of the game with 48 seconds to play and Creek nursing a 48-47 lead.
Creek junior Calie Clark played only 15 minutes in the game because of being saddled with fouls but played the final 4:34 of the game. Clark, who finished with 14 points, hit the second of two free throws just before Van Gytenbeek fouled out and then hit two more with 45.4 seconds to play to push the lead to 50-47.
Bella Sparaco, who had a game-high 17 rebounds for the Bruins, who held a 47-30 rebounding advantage, sank a free throw with 12.7 seconds on the clock to make it a two-possession game and account for the final score.
“It was a little frustrating but being on the bench to cheer on my team I knew when I got back in I was able to help them,” said Clark. “I missed my first free throw but hit the second. We definitely had our ups and down in the game.”
Highlands Ranch had plenty of offensive options and played good defense as the Falcons shut down Broomfield with only five points in the second half in the easy win.
Senior Kasey Neubert paced the Falcons’ balanced offense with 16 points. Autumn Watts added 14 points and guard Jamie Bain 13.
Freshman Raegan Beers had 24 points and 10 rebounds but Grandview controlled the second half and Valor managed to shoot only 23.3 percent from the floor in the final two quarters.
In Sweet 16 5A games held on Feb. 26, Highlands Ranch jumped to an 18-0 first-period lead and went on to down Dakota Ridge, 72-25. Neubert led three Falcons double-figure scorers with 24 points.
Cherry Creek rolled to a 39-9 halftime lead in a 70-14 romp over Rangeview. The Bruins connected on 51 percent of their field goal attempts as Van Gytenbeek led the way with 22 points
Fossil Ridge slipped past Mountain Vista, 59-47. Sophomore Sara Vafaie was the top scorer for the Golden Eagles with 16 points.
Valor Christian, down by three points heading into the fourth quarter, notched a 50-41 comeback win over Legend. Beers had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Jenna Siebert added 12 points for the Eagles. Lauren Carmack and Kinzie Whitehead each had 11 points for the Titans.
Grandview eliminated Chaparral, 69-28. Freshman Tia Slade had eight points to lead the Wolverines.
Montrose sealed a 51-46 win Ponderosa with a strong fourth quarter in a 4A Sweet 16 contest.
In the 3A state tournament, Lutheran and SkyView Academy won first-round games on March 1. Lutheran beat Lamar, 63-31 as sophomore Stephanie Schultz missed only two field goal attempts and finished with 18 points.
SkyView Academy used an 11-2 second-quarter run to get past Middle Park, 45-31, in the first round before losing 53-39 to Delta in the second roumnd.
The Lions edged Cedaredge, 49-45, in a March 2 Sweet 16 game and Schultz had 19 points in the victory.
Lutheran will face Pagosa Springs in a 7 p.m. Great 8 game on March 7 at the University of Denver’s Hamilton gym.
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