Last-second free throws lift No. 9 D'Evelyn over Green Mountain in girls hoops

D'Evelyn Green Mountain girls basketball

D'Evelyn senior Mallory Seemann shoots in traffic during the second half Thursday night. The Jaguars edged Green Mountain 31-30 to come one step closer to winning a third straight Class 4A Jeffco League title. (Dennis Pleuss)

LAKEWOOD — There would be no high marks given out for style points Thursday night at Green Mountain High School.

D’Evelyn clawed its way closer to a third straight Class 4A Jeffco League girls basketball title by gutting out a 31-30 victory against Green Mountain in a defensive struggle. The Jaguars control their own destiny in winning the conference title with two league games remaining.

“A win is a win. That’s a huge win,” said D’Evelyn senior Malia Shappell, who made two free throws with 4.1 seconds left to give the No. 9-ranked Jaguars (16-4, 11-1 in league) a one-point lead.

D'Evelyn Green Mountain girls basketball

Green Mountain junior Cassie Allen (3) attempts to break the full-court pressure from D'Evelyn senior Katie Cunniff, left, and Lexi Reed during the second half Thursday night. (Dennis Pleuss)

Shappell hit nothing but the bottom of the net on the first free throw, but had to watch the ball trip around the rim before falling through on the go-ahead free throw.

“The first one was easy,” said Shappell, who scored a game-high 14 points. “The second one they got in my head, but I hit it. That is all that matters. I don’t care what it looked like.”

Green Mountain (17-4, 10-2) had to go the length of the court in 4.1 seconds. The Rams were able to inbound the ball to midcourt and swing the ball to freshman Delaney Bernard. Quickly after Bernard caught the ball she fouled by Shappell. The Jaguars had fouls to give before the Rams were in the bonus.

The referees huddled for a moment to determine if Bernard was in the act of shooting.

“Heck yes,” D’Evelyn coach Chris Olson said when asked if he was concerned the Bernard would be awarded free throws. “That is why I was yelling ‘on the floor, on the floor’ as soon as she (the ref) blew the whistle. You trust in that situation that (the refs) realize it was on the floor, but sure I was nervous.”

The foul was ruled on the floor and the Rams had possession with just .2 seconds left on the clock. A tip-in attempt by Green Mountain senior Kelli Van Tassel at the buzzer came up empty and D’Evelyn players celebrated getting one step closer to another conference title.

“We just couldn’t pull it out in the end,” Van Tassel said. “We got too comfortable with our lead and couldn’t get a shot off. We had some bad turnovers late.”

The Rams went inside to senior MacKenzie Schaller and junior Brooklyn Gaffner in the third quarter to take the lead after trailing 16-13 at halftime. The Jaguars were focused on covering Van Tassel and Bernard on the outside.

“(Green Mountain coach Rudy Martin) is a great coach and they have a lot of really great players,” Olson said. “They were spreading us out because we were trying to cover the shooters and they went inside.”

D'Evelyn Green Mountain girls basketball

Green Mountain senior Kelli Van Tassel (23) fights for a rebound with D'Evelyn senior Emily Garnier on Thursday night. (Dennis Pleuss)

D’Evelyn drove hard to the lane in the fourth quarter to score the final eight points of the game to take the victory. Senior Mallory Seemann made the only field goal for the Jaguars in the final quarter. It was enough as D’Evelyn went 6-for-10 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter.

“I said at halftime if we had to win 29-27 that is what we’ll do because we are that good,” Olson said. “We just fought and clawed. I was so proud.”

D’Evelyn is scheduled for a trio of home games next week to finish out its regular season. All games are set for a 7 p.m. tipoff.

The Jaguars faces Wheat Ridge (Feb. 18) and Arvada (Feb. 20) before a non-league tilt against Rock Canyon, the 10th-ranked squad in the 5A poll this week.

Green Mountain preps for the postseason with a road game at Conifer on Feb. 18.

“Conifer is a good team and we need to make sure we take care of,” Van Tassel said. “So we are just going to get ready for them. We’ll learn from this and use it as motivation.”

Pairings for the 4A state tournament will be released Feb. 23. Opening round games will be played Feb. 25.

D'Evelyn Green Mountain girls basketball

Green Mountain sophomore Hannah Hank kicks a pass out to the perimeter while being surrounded by D'Evelyn defenders (left to right) Madison Berres, Malia Shappell and Lexi Lusk on Thursday night (Dennis Pleuss)

D'Evelyn Green Mountain girls basketball

Green Mountain freshman Delaney Bernard, left, tries to dribble around D'Evelyn sophomore Lexi Reed during the first half Thursday night in the Class 4A Jeffco League matchup. (Dennis Pleuss)