AURORA -- It should go without saying, but freshman standout Michaela Onyenwere had never played in a double-overtime game during her short career at Grandview.
“Coach told us all to just calm down,” Onyenwere said. “He said, 'We still got this, even if there is still one second left and we’re tied.' That helped me out because I had never played in a game like this.”
Onyenwere scored 21 points in No. 4 Grandview's 65-58 double-overtime win over No. 7 Poudre (3-2) in Friday night's semifinals of the Grandview High School Invitational. Sophomore Cecelia Berkner led Poudre with 22 points.
Coach Josh Ulitzky, of Grandview (4-0), decided to play two of his freshman during the final moments of the game.
“I thought that our young players, (Onyenwere) and Kennede Brown, did a pretty good job," Ulitzky said. "I would like to say that there is another way to learn -- but that’s it. They need to get out there and play in these tough games.”
Last season, Grandview had the best season in school history, finishing at 24-3 (13-1 league). Their regular season achievements earned them No. 3 seed in the state tournament. Grandview made it all the way to the final four before losing to Resuit Jesuit, the eventual 5A state champion, by three points.
“We needed to be battle-tested a little bit,” Ulitzky said. “We had some nerves in the final minutes. But I think, in the end, senior leadership really did a nice job. Having Jen Jordan, Brittany Bender and Denise Batiste to calm things down, and make shots late and get stops helped us.”
Through four games, Onyenwere leads Grandview at 20.5 points per game, the fourth highest scoring average in 5A girls basketball. The next highest-scoring freshman in 5A is Spencer Lindsey of Pine Creek, at 13.8 points per contest. Grandview has averaged 66.5 points through its first four games.
Grandview will play D’Evelyn (4-2) in the tournament final on Dec 14 at 5 PM. D’Evelyn lost to Poudre in the Battle Of The Rockies tournament semifinals 46-37 on Dec. 6.
In the last matchup between Grandview and D’Evleyn, the semifinals of last year’s tournament at Grandview, Grandview took the win 63-57 behind 18 points from senior Abaeze Obinnah. Obinnah was a key part of Grandview’s run in 2012-13 as the second-leading scorer on the team.
“We’re going to have to cover the three-point line,” Ulitzky said of Saturday's game. “D’Evelyn loves to run the 3-point line. It will be a challenge for us because they like to run up the floor quickly, give pressure and shoot.”