DENVER — It’s now seven years and counting for D’Evelyn girls basketball team.
“We are excited about it,” D’Evelyn coach Chris Olson said after Friday night’s second-round Class 4A victory over The Classical Academy. “To get to the Sweet 16 for seven straight years with a school of 600 kids playing in 4A is pretty cool.”
The No. 7-seeded Jaguars (18-6 record) trailed early against No. 26 TCA, who have a similar pressure defense and running style as D’Evelyn. It took a 12-0 run by the Jaguars during a 5-minute span in the first quarter to turn the tide.
Still, D’Evelyn struggled shooting at times and missed five free throws in the second quarter while maintaining a 29-19 lead at halftime.
“On the one end, we are always going to play that way,” Olson said of the Jaguars’ controlled chaos style of pressure defending and pushing the ball up the court. “The shooting part has been more of a struggle this year then most. I think our team has kind of embraced it. They know we’ll go on a run scoring 12 points in a couple of minutes. Then we might not score for six minutes.”
The Jaguar faithful could relax a little when senior Angi Reed opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer to give D’Evelyn a 42-30 lead.
“It was a big confidence booster for me personally,” Reed said of her 3-pointer that opened up the Jaguars’ first double-digit lead of the game. “It kind of felt like it sealed it a little bit.”
D’Evelyn had good balance scoring with seniors Bailey Marvel (12 points), Reed (11 points) and junior Tori Szathmary (11 points) all pouring in double digits. TCA was led by junior Maddie Ivan’s 15 points.
D’Evelyn and The Classical Academy both advanced to the Sweet 16 of the 4A state tournament last season. The Jaguars’ season ended there with a lost to Pueblo West, while the Titians’ season came to a close with a loss to Windsor.
TCA finished this season with a 17-8 record.
D’Evelyn is now on a 6-game winning streak. The Jaguars finished in a 3-way tie for second in the talented 4A Jeffco League. In fact, the conference featured four teams — Valor Christian, Evergreen, D’Evelyn and Golden — holding seeds in the top-10 for the state tournament.
All four advanced with wins Friday to the Sweet 16 coming up on Tuesday, Feb. 27. No. 10 Golden is next up for D’Evelyn. The Demons swept the two league games against D’Evelyn with wins of 53-39 and 40-32.
“It’s hard to beat a team three times,” Reed said of the re-match against Golden. “Playoffs, anything can happen.”
D’Evelyn must contain Golden seniors Abby Garnett and Makena Prey. The 6-footers have combined for 63 points in the two previous meetings against the Jaguars.
“It’s hard guarding (Abby Garnett and Makena Prey) when they are in together,” Marvel said. “We need to pressure their guards and force other girls to make plays besides Abby and Makena.”
Olson believes despite being the higher seed and at home, the Jaguars will be seen as the underdog in Tuesday’s Sweet 16 game.