Before the start of the fourth quarter of Arapahoe’s second-round 5A girls state playoff game at ThunderRidge, coach Jerry Knafelc talked with his team — and they listened.
”When we came over at the end of the third, we got together and I told them we will determine our fate in this game,” Knafelc said. ”It will be on our play. We kept battling and got into the flow. We finally got comfortable with what we needed to do.”
Arapahoe outscored ThunderRidge 15-5 in the fourth quarter to break open a close game and record a 43-32 victory on Feb. 28.
The Warriors, 15-10 and the winners of six straight games, advanced to the Sweet 16, which was played March 3. Arapahoe, the 20th seed in the playoff bracket, played Centennial League foe and No. 4 seed Grandview, which beat Arapahoe twice during the regular season by a combined 112-59 score.
Arapahoe held a one-point lead over ThunderRidge heading into the final quarter but went on a 10-2 run to take charge.
Junior Sam Shaw had a 3-point basket and two free throws to help ignite Arapahoe’s fourth-quarter surge.
”Obviously, we wanted basically to play hard in the fourth quarter, play together and play for the seniors because it could have been our last game if we lost” said Shaw. ”So I hit my shots and we hit our free throws and we won. We really turned it on.”
Arapahoe sank 8-of-11 free throws in the final 2:16 of the game to seal the win.
Senior Kali March was the Warriors’ leading scorer with 15 points while Shaw had 11 points, including three 3-point baskets, and also pulled down seven rebounds. Sophomore Sam Crispe seven points and eight rebounds.
ThunderRidge, the No. 13 seed, finished its season with a 17-7 record.
Senior Heidi Haze had nine points to pace the Grizzlies’ offense while senior Lindsay Anhalt added seven points for ThunderRidge, which had eight seniors on the roster.
”We just didn’t play our best game,” said ThunderRidge coach Samantha Gillmore. ”We weren’t playing our normal game. We kind of passed up shots, we passed up things and we weren’t doing what we normally do.
“It was one heck of a season. This group brought the program back. What a great season but not the ending we wanted.”
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