LITTLETON — Columbine’s girls basketball team accomplished one big goal it had entering this season.
The No. 20-seeded Rebels managed the program’s first playoff victory since 2010 with a 41-37 victory Tuesday night against No. 45 Eaglecrest.
“It’s been like eight years since we’ve won a playoff game,” Columbine junior Maura Singer said. “It’s definitely super nice.”
Columbine (17-7 record) moves into the second round of the Class 5A state tournament. No. 13-seeded Doherty, who earned a first-round bye, will host the Rebels at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, in Colorado Springs. The Spartans (20-3) have a 16-game winning streak heading into Friday’s game.
Despite the task of playing on the road, Columbine’s first-year coach Greg Bolding Jr. is feeling good heading to Colorado Springs at the end of the week.
“I love our match-up with Doherty. I think we match-up well with them,” Bolding said. “Hopefully are nerves calm now and we got that out of the way.”
Nerves definitely were an issue in the opening half for Columbine. Eaglecrest (9-15) forced several turnovers with pressure from the Raptors’ guards.
However, Singer banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first half to give the Rebels a 15-11 lead going into halftime.
“That 3-pointer did help,” Singer said of her bank shot from long-range. “It wasn’t the prettiest thing. I just kind of threw it up. It got us pumped.”
Columbine extended its lead to 25-16 midway through the third quarter thanks to a 10-0 run. Sophomores Kaitlyn Mayberry and Quincey Baum both hit a pair of 3-pointers during the run.
The Rebels actually scored more than half of their points on 3-pointers, draining seven. Eaglecrest was also sharp at time from long range. The Raptors poured in six 3-pointers. Junior Raquel Turner (14 points) and senior Jordan Stoner (9 points) had three 3-pointers each for the Raptors.
Eaglecrest actually took a 35-34 lead with 4:06 left in the fourth quarter after junior Hidaya Thornton (10 points) made a runner in the lane.
Despite playing with four fouls, Singer came back into the game midway through the fourth quarter in an attempt by the Rebels to stop the surging Raptors.
“I just knew I had to play smart,” Singer said playing with four fouls. “I stopped gambling. It paid off.”
The gamble by Bolding to get his 6-foot-4 post back into the game paid off. Eaglecrest didn’t make a field goal in the final four minutes and on three consecutive trips down the court Singer had blocks as the Rebels hung on to a slim lead.
“When she (Singer) was in there she was big for us,” Bolding said.
Baum made a drive layup with 7 seconds left to give the Rebels a 4-point lead and put the game on ice. Baum finished with a team-high 12 points.
“There was no flow. I think the nerves had a lot to do with that,” Bolding. said. “None of these girls have won a playoff game. The nerves were there. I think they were trying to do a little too much early.”
The first-round playoff game was actually a rematch from a non-league game back in December. Columbine edged Eaglecrest 45-40 back on Dec. 2. Baum led the Rebels the first time around with a game-high 17 points. The Raptors were led by Turner’s 16 points.