In what was the third meeting between #4 Cherry Creek and #6 Grandview, it was clear this one was going to go to the wire. The teams are Centennial League rivals and split the season series to end up once again square off, this time for the 5A Girls Basketball Title. Grandview looked to win their third championship in a row, while Cherry Creek looked to win their first ever girls’ title in their first trip back to the finals since 2006. Today, they did just that.
Cherry Creek sophomore Kacee Kyle got the scoring going and on the next Bruins’ possession, juniors Jana Van Gytenbeek and Cali Clark teamed up to give Cherry Creek an early 4-0 lead over the Wolves. Grandview got on the board following two free throws by senior Allyah Marlett. Marlett found herself back to the line after a steal, by fellow senior Alisha Davis, sprung her free. Kyle was charged with the foul and went to the bench icing her right hand.
Inside, Cherry Creek struggled with the length of 6’7” freshman Lauren Betts of Grandview who sent away consecutive shots by Clark. Following the second block, the Wolves charged down the court and converting the and-one attempt provided them with a 10-6 lead with 1:44 remaining in the first. The Bruins resulted to shooting outside and not tempting Betts for the rest of the quarter, but could not convert as they found themselves behind, 11-6 heading into the second.
The teams traded baskets to start the second, but Grandview began to pull away behind the offensive rebounding and put-backs by Betts. The Wolves took a 17-10 lead before a three-quarter court pass by Clark found Kyle streaking for the layup. Seeing that a quick tempo was helping the Bruins with inside chances, Cherry Creek was able to close the gap to three points before Grandview was able to settle back into their rhythm, taking a 24-18 lead into the break.
After halftime, Cherry Creek was on the board first, but Grandview was able to get two to drop from the line to hold their six-point lead. Betts made her presence felt once again as she sent away two more shots. The Wolves continued to push their lead, but the Bruins would not roll over. Cherry Creek was able to hit two threes in the final two minutes of the quarter, but Grandview continued to hang on.
The fourth began with a basket by Betts to give Grandview their largest lead of the game, 10-points at 42-32. Cherry Creek sunk a three-pointer following a timeout with a little over six minutes to go. The Bruins only gave up seven more points (nine total in the 4th) as they began their comeback. Going back to speed, they found success inside by driving the baseline around Betts. Grandview tried to kill the clock, but pressure by the Bruins forced mistakes springing Kyle who tied the game twice in the final minute of the game. Kyle was fouled with 23.5 seconds to go, but her basket was good. She missed the and-one attempt but Clark was there for the rebound giving the Bruins the ball for the final possession.
Following a timeout, the Bruins handed the ball off to Van Gytenbeek who took it inside and floated the ball off the glass. The shot dropped giving Cherry Creek a 51-49 lead with less than four seconds remaining. Grandview had one final chance, but was called for travelling as they neared the three-point line, sealing the victory for Cherry Creek. The Bruins battled back to secure their first ever girls basketball title and will take state and league bragging rights into next year.
The Bruins kept up with Grandview in terms of quarterly scoring in the second and third quarter, but needed a big fourth to complete the comeback. They did just that, outscoring the Wolves 19-9 in the final frame. Junior Jana Van Gytenbeek led the charge for the Bruins with 23 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Sophomore Kacee Kyle was the hero for the Bruins with 21 points, six rebounds, one assist, and two steals. Junior Cali Clark secured her second state title (3A with Lamar as a freshman) behind her seven points, seven rebounds, one block, and one steal.
The Wolves came up just short in their bid for a third consecutive state title, but they couldn’t have played harder. They will see senior leaders Alisha Davis and Allyah Marlett move on after this year, but they have depth and experience to put them right back in the mix next year. Marlett scored a team-high 14 points and six rebounds. Davis was right behind her with 13 points, six rebounds, one block, and three steals. Freshman Lauren Betts nearly had a double-double as she finished with nine points, 14 rebounds, and six blocks.