DENVER — On Thursday, eight girls basketball teams from the 4A and 5A classifications take to the Denver Coliseum with a spot in the state finals on the line.
We preview each matchup below.
(2) Pueblo West vs. (3) Evergreen
A showdown between the Cyclones and the Cougars kicks off the night. Both come into the contest at 23-3. Pueblo West comes into the game a perfect 10-0 on the road but the Cougars hold a 4-0 record at neutral sites.
Sophomore Claudia Dillon will look to lead her Cougars to the upset. She is averaging 13.4 points per game coupled with 10.5 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 2.5 blocks per game. On the other bench, junior Olivia Lough will look to take Pueblo West to the championship game. She has averaged 17.4 points per game with 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
Pueblo West tied with Pueblo South for the 4A South Central League championship while Evergreen took second in the 4A Jeffco League with Golden winning the league
Pueblo West has struggled historically in Final 4 games, going to three of the last five semifinals and not advancing to any championship games. The Cyclones come in as the hottest team in 4A, winning their last 11 straight games.
(1) Pueblo South vs. (5) Windsor
In the second game of the afternoon, the 24-2 Colts of Pueblo South take on the 20-6 Wizards of Windsor.
The Wizards come in as the underdog to Pueblo South. The top-seeded Colts have a powerful offense, averaging 58.6 points per game, while Windsor relies on strong defense and forcing tough looks.
Pueblo South has star power throughout their lineup, led by Andrea Nelson running the offense and Gabi Lucero down low. Michaela Moran will need to come up big for Windsor if they want to upset the top ranked team.
The Wizards feature multiple multi-sport athletes, and that athleticism will give Windsor a shot, but solid execution will be pivotal for them.
Pueblo South won the first meeting between these two teams 52-45 on Dec. 22 due to a big fourth-quarter comeback.
The Colts tied for first in the 4A South Central League; Windsor placed 2nd in the 4A Tri-Valley League.
Pueblo South has not been to the Final 4 since 2014, and they won the state title in 2013. Windsor, on the other hand, has not been to a Final 4 since 1995 and will look to hold up under the pressure of the Coliseum.
(2) Grandview vs. (11) Regis Jesuit
Upsets were abound in the 5A bracket and the only top seed left in the tournament are the Grandview Wolves. Regis Jesuit, meanwhile, is looking to add Grandview to the list of downed top seeds as the two square off in the first Final 4 game in 5A.
Star power will be in full force this game as Grandview showcases UCLA commit and McDonald's All-American Michaela Onyenwere who averages 20.4 points and 3.5 steals per game. Other weapons for Grandview come in Leilah Vigil, who averages 14 points per game coupled with 8.7 rebounds.
On the other side, sophomore Francesca Belibi looks to lead her Raiders to the championship game, Belibi leads Regis in points, rebounds, steals and blocks and has earned national attention for throwing down the first dunk in Colorado girls basketball history.
Momentum will be a major factor in this game. Belibi dunking one may be the spark needed for RJ to pull off the upset. On the other hand, Grandview must play their game and use all the options they have to avenge last year's Final 4 defeat.
Grandview is the Centennial League champion while Regis Jesuit placed second in the Continental League.
Grandview is undefeated in the state, holds a 25-1 overall record, and is No. 9 in MaxPreps' national rankings, but in a tournament filled with upsets, Regis Jesuit looks to knock off another titan and play for the hardware Saturday night.
(9) Lakewood vs. (12) Cherry Creek
The Tigers and Bruins face off in a game that not many would have predicted going into championship weekend. Both teams had a pair of upsets to get to this point. Lakewood had to run through No. 8 Denver East and No. 1 Highlands Ranch to play in this contest, while Cherry Creek took down No. 5 Fruita Monument and No. 4 Ralston Valley.
Lakewood is led by junior Camilla Emsbo who averages just under 19 points per game coupled with 8.7 rebounds. Cherry Creek is led by freshman Jana Van Gytenbeek, who averages over 15.5 points and 5.7 assists per game.
Cherry Creek is an offensive oriented team scoring just under 63 points per game. Lakewood will need to use its strong defensive abilities to move on.
Lakewood placed second in the 5A Jeffco League. Cherry Creek also took second, in the Centennial League.
at the Denver Coliseum
- 1 p.m. — 4A girls championship
- 6:30 p.m. — 5A girls championship