LOVELAND — During a timeout with 25 seconds left in the third quarter on Thursday, Wray girls basketball head coach David Reed let out an emphatic “YES.”
His Eagles, the No. 3 seed in the Class 2A girls basketball tournament, had just taken a 52-30 lead over No. 6 seeded Rangely. And by gosh, he was excited about it.
“I was really proud of our intensity and our tempo,” Reed said after the Eagles finished off a 69-49 victory to advance to the state semifinals at the Budweiser Events Center. “We want to score 60 points, and that’s how we play. I was just very happy today.”
Senior Maddie Soehner led the scoring for Wray with 22 points — all of which came in the first three quarters — and junior Morgan Smith added 19, but it was the defense which got Reed and the Eagles’ faithful, all draped in purple, the most excited on Thursday night.
The Eagles held Rangely’s leading scorer, senior Katelyn Brown, to 16 points, allowing her to score just four in the first half, and held her below her season average (20) for the game.
“(Brown) is just a great player, and we just concentrated on it and make her really work for shots,” Reed said. “Our defensive intensity was great.”
The Eagles are back in the semis for the third straight season with the prior two trips resulting in a fourth-place finish (2016) and a runner-up effort a year ago. They’ve been here before, but now they’re hungry for more.
Wray takes on No. 6 Clear Creek, which knocked off No. 2 seed Simla 40-28 for its first ever win at the state tournament, Friday at 7 p.m.
“We’ve been here before, so we have an understanding of what it takes,” Reed said. “We’re not overwhelmed by the emotion of it. We understand that we’re up against a really good Clear Creek team, and we’ll have to have that same type of emotion and intensity that we had tonight.”
On the other side of the bracket, No. 1 Yuma remained unbeaten (25-0) and advanced to the state semifinals for an amazing sixth consecutive season by topping Ignacio 39-29. Yuma will square off against Limon, the No. 5-seed which bested Holyoke on Thursday.
(7) Clear Creek 40, (2) Simla 28
The Golddiggers made their first-ever state tournament game count in a big way, knocking off No. 2 seed Simla and advancing to the semifinals.
Senior Grace Werlin led the scoring with 18 points, half of which came from 3-pointers, and Rachel Lucas scored eight in the third quarter alone to put the contest out of reach.
(1) Yuma 39, (8) Ignacio 29
A 19-point effort from junior Cody Robinson helped push Yuma into the state semis for the sixth straight year.
Yuma’s previous trips to the semis resulted in four championship game appearances and one title (2016).
(5) Limon 39, (4) Holyoke 30
The Badgers got out to a quick start and never looked back, riding a 7-0 lead quickly in the first quarter and holding on for a 39-30 minor upset over fourth-seeded Holyoke.
Limon moves on to face No. 1 seed Yuma in the semifinals Friday at 4 p.m.