Cherry Creek girls basketball returns to 5A Great 8 with win over Fruita Monument

Cherry Creek Fruita Monument girls basketball

(Max Potter/

FRUITA — Cherry Creek had to venture 261 miles away from home to take on the furthest west Class 5A school in the state in Fruita Monument.

But it was a drive well worth it as the Bruins came away with a 71-43 win to advance to Friday's Great 8 at the Denver Coliseum.

The Bruins (18-7 overall) were helped out by early Wildcat fouls and jumped out to a 6-1 lead 58 seconds into the game. Fruita head coach Michael Wells, sensing danger, burned a quick timeout but that didn't phase Cherry Creek who never looked back.

The Wildcats (22-3) couldn't get an answer for the weapons Cherry Creek brought as it the first half ended 36-22. Frustration eventually set in as Wells was hit with a technical in the fourth quarter when the Bruins were in firm control.

On the other bench, there were celebration as Cherry Creek became aware it was another win closer to the ultimate prize of a state title.

"It felt really good to get the team win, get all my teammates involved, and get the W," freshman Jana Van Gytenbeek said. "Defense is going to be key (from here out), we have to work together and play like a team from here out and we will be fine."

Van Gytenbeek paced the Bruins with a double-double, going for 17 points and 12 assists.

Cherry Creek Fruita Monument girls basketball

(Max Potter/

Captain Sydney Mech put together a very good offensive game as well, scoring 16 to compliment Van Gytenbeek's effort.

"Our goal is to play as hard as we can and as hard as I know we can and go out and get another win," Mech said.

She's been battling an injury all year long and broke out at just the right point of the season.

"It feels great," she said. "I've had a lot of rough points (this season), and now I feel like I'm myself again."

Cherry Creek four-year letter winner Lauren McMillen also had a great game putting up 14 points and some big rebounds to boot.

"I just kept going and once I got tired I just told myself keep pushing, keep pushing and that see the opportunities and keep playing as a unit," McMillen said. "All the rankings, the (RPI) means nothing because we work hard and want is just as much as everyone else."

Another big performance from Senior Delaney Bernard rounded out the team effort as she put up 10 in the victory.

"It felt great out there, I keep working at (my shot) and my teammates believe in me which really helps," Bernard said.

With Tuesday's game now out the way, she couldn't help to start looking toward Friday's game against Ralston Valley.

"I think if we play as a team and how we know we can, we can get them, they are a good competitive team, and it will be a good game," she said.

The No. 12 team in the state, Cherry Creek is looking to leave their mark on the history books as they look to upset No. 4 Ralston Valley, a team that holds two wins over the Bruins this year. The game will be Friday at the Denver Coliseum.