LOVELAND — The girls basketball program at South Baca has come a long ways in recent years.
After posting a 7-32 record during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, the Patriots went 35-10 the previous two seasons, but lost by three points apiece to Kit Carson and Eads in their regional tournaments.
On Thursday, at the Class 1A state tournament at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, the eighth-seeded Patriots (20-4) upset the top-seeded and previously undefeated Kit Carson Wildcats 60-47 in the Great 8. A season ago, Flagler took down No. 1 seed Norwood in the state quarterfinals as well.
A cooperative program comprised of Campo, Vilas and Pritchett, South Baca, with no girls taller than 5-foot-10, wore down a bigger Kit Carson (22-1) team by pushing the pace in the second half and outscoring the Wildcats 18-3 in the third and 34-17 after the break.
“That’s the way we like to play,” third-year South Baca coach Tom Jacobs said. “We like to play pressure defense and get up and down the floor. I think Kit Carson’s fatigue finally got to them a little bit there.”
South Baca also rode the hot hand of 1A’s leading scorer, Shae Wood (20.6 points per game), who poured in a game-high 25 points, including 18 in the first half.
“It’s no secret to anybody. We go to Shae Wood,” Jacobs said. “When everyone else is having a bad game, Shae Wood seems to carry us through those rough spots. Once we started getting on the boards in the second half and getting on the break, we just used our athletic ability and kind of took over the game. We had a team defensive effort.”
Wood, fellow senior guard Montana Yocam (17 points) and junior forward Bree-Ann Carwin (12), the team’s offensive leaders throughout the season, carried South Baca to their first-ever Final 4 appearance in girls basketball.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Wood said. “We really worked hard all season. Our goal was to get to state and we finally did it this year. We just had to keep ourselves focused.”
Micayla Isenbart, Kit Carson’s 6-foot-2 versatile sophomore guard, finished the game with 23 points, but no one else for the Wildcats scored more than eight.
South Baca advances to Friday’s semifinals at Budweiser Events Center at 4 p.m. against Idalia.
(4) Idalia 52 (5) Norwood 33
The Wolves rode a 30-8 halftime lead to a blowout victory in the state quarterfinals. They also improved to 19-2 on the season as Susana Herarra (13 points), Jennay Terrel (11) and Reagan Shaffer (10) led the way in the scoring department.
Idalia will be defending their 2015 state championship against South Baca at 4 p.m. on Friday.
(6) Briggsdale 38 (3) Heritage Christian 29
The Falcons will be making their second semifinals appearance in the last three seasons after holding off Heritage Christian and improving to 22-3. Briggsdale also reached the state championship in 2008, losing to Eads.
On Thursday, Darian Hale (12 points), Brianne Schneider (10) and Jodel Erickson (10) stepped up in a major way. Briggsdale faces Sangre de Cristo at 7 p.m. in the semifinals.
(2) Sangre de Cristo 50 (7) Genoa-Hugo 48
The Thunderbirds stayed undefeated at 24-0 as senior Brooke Slane had a game-high 21 points. Fellow seniors Karleigh Cooley (14 points) and Jenna McKinley (11) had nice efforts for Sangre as well.
Sangre de Cristo will go against Briggsdale.