LOVELAND — In 2017, Kit Carson has literally and figuratively been head and shoulders above the competition.
Kit Carson won the battle of Wildcats and its first-ever Class 1A state championship over Fleming 55-35, putting the finishing touches on a perfect 25-0 campaign.
A family affair was a perfect recipe as 6-foot-2 sophomore Olivia Isenbart, the tallest player for an imposing group, tallied nine of the sisters' 14 points at the break. Each sister, 5-foot-11 freshman Reyna and 6-foot junior Micayla, played a role in handling the ball, cleaning the glass and scoring inside and out.
Overall, the family tallied 28 of Kit Carson's points.
Superb sophomore Tess Hornung also capped a torrid postseason with double-digit points.
Kit Carson's size inhibited any consistent offensive flow for Fleming as the third-seeded Wildcats never led, trailing by 20 points as early as the third frame.
Feeding the paint and opening up the perimeter offensively, to go with a stifling defense that allowed few open looks inside the arc, proved a winning formula for Kit Carson this season. No one could quite match it as Kit swept runner-up Fleming in the regular season (55-44) and postseason.
"I would say that last year didn't end the way they wanted it to, so they used that as their fuel all year long," coach Sara Crawford said. This is very special. It's our first girls basketball state title. It's opening up ceilings and breaking belief barriers from the past."
And it may just carry into the future.
Kit Carson now has a 73-2 record the past three seasons combined and now, after playing in and winning the title, the team will return all but guard Shayla Bogenhagen. Most of the team is underclassmen.
"I am just blessed beyond measure," Micayla Isenbart said. "We're celebrating now, but we can't wait to start again."
Crawford was ecstatic to see her program break through and just as excited about the support of the community backing the Wildcats.
"I just want to thank our community," she said. "Only about 300 people live in our town and they are probably all here."
Fleming finished as runner-up with a 24-2 record. Their guard play was solid throughout the season, but an undersized team had matchup difficulties. Nevertheless, it was a magical run for Fleming.