HIGHLANDS RANCH — Valor Christian freshman Kindyll Wetta was esstenial in helping the Eagles jump out of the gate and grab an early lead over Golden.
So it was all the more crushing when an apparent leg injury not only ended her night, but raised questions about the future of her season.
The Class 4A No. 4-ranked Eagles came away with a 55-53 win over the No. 2 Demons. But the potential loss of the team's leading scorer took some of the wind out of the sails of victory.
"She's a phenomenal athlete," Valor coach Jessika Caldwell said. "A lot of our success pertains to her. So to see a teammate go down, any teammate go down, but especially her, that's hard."
Before her injury, Wetta had scored 21 points, matching a career high. She got 17 of those points in the first half, allowing the Eagles (10-2 overall, 3-0 4A Jeffco) to go into the break up 30-16.
But the Demons (11-1, 2-1) were far from out of it. They finally found an offensive rhythm in the third quarter and thanks in large part to Makena Prey, cut the Valor lead to just nine points heading into the final eight minutes.
"They're a competitive group," Golden coach Mike Osborne said. "They want to win. They want to compete and they won't quit. We just can't dig ourselves that big of a hole."
Elli Garnett fueled the Golden offense in the fourth quarter, scoring seven of the team's 18 points.
With Wetta out of the game, someone had to step up and make the big shots for Valor. Sara Nealy knocked down a 3-pointer in the third quarter that gave her the confidence to be that person and she didn't hesitate to pull the trigger in the fourth.
"After I hit the first three (in the first quarter), I kind of got the momentum going," Nealy said. "After the second one, I felt really good about it so hitting the third one felt really good."
The Eagles held a two-point lead heading into the possession. Golden had the ball with less than 10 seconds left and Garnett was able to get two shots up from under the basket, but neither fell and it was Valor who escaped Wednesday's showdown unbeaten in league play. But the players' thoughts kept shifting to their fallen teammate.
"Since it was a top-10 showdown, (Wetta) going down was a really big part," Nealy said. "But me hitting those shots and getting key rebounds was a big part in us being able to get the win."
Word out of Valor is that Wetta will get her knee examined on Thursday. There was no definitive answer on the extent of the injury, but it seem significant enough to curb the excitement of Wednesday's win.
Both teams will be back in action on Friday, continuing to work through the tough Jeffco League gauntlet.