3A girls basketball: Colorado Springs Christian, St. Mary's advance to final

Moffat County Clorado Springs Christian girls basketball

(Ray Chen/ArrayPhoto.com)

DENVER — Colorado Springs Christian girls basketball scored the first 21 points in a runaway victory in the Class 3A semifinals on Friday afternoon.

A spot in the state finals certainly couldn’t come quick enough for last year’s runner-up.

Megan Engesser scored 16 of her 18 points in a stellar first half, Rachel Ingram added 12 points and No. 4 Colorado Springs Christian beat No. 8 Moffat County 51-30 at the University of Denver’s Hamilton Gymnasium.

The Lions (23-3) will look to avenge last year’s finals loss when they face St. Mary’s (25-1) on Saturday afternoon.

“We sure thought about what happened last year a lot,” said Engesser, recalling the 24-18 loss to Lamar in the 2017 state game. “It’s been good motivation.”

Katie Hildenbrand added eight points and Abby Knedler had seven points for CSCS, which won its eighth straight game. Even more, the Lions nailed down their fourth consecutive blowout win of the postseason — outscoring their state opposition 224-123.

“The girls wanted to get back (to state) and really worked hard,” CSCS coach Mark Engesser said. “I’m very happy — we’re very happy.”

A day after upsetting top-seed Kent Denver, Moffat County (20-6) didn’t score for the first 10 minutes and 22 seconds. Jana Camilletti’s two free throws finally put the Bulldogs on the board with 5:38 left in the second quarter.

Camilletti went on to score her team’s first five points and finished with nine. No other player scored for Moffat County until Brooke Gumber flipped in a short jumper to cut the deficit to 35-7 with 4:44 left in the third.

“I feel like our girls worked their tails off to get here,” Bulldogs coach Kenley Nebeker said. “Our goal was just to get past regionals and we did that. Getting to the Final Four was skipping a step. I like that.”

The Lions led 32-4 at half, using the strength of a suffocating defense and silky-smooth outside shooting. Engesser, the leader in 3A scoring, led the way with four 3s in the half — including two in the final 40 seconds.

Both Engesser and her dad/coach mirrored each other’s sentiments after the game: “Sometimes the ball goes in and sometimes is doesn’t.”

CSCS hit eight of its 10 3s in the half.

Its lead grew to as much as 32 in the third and the Lions rested their starters midway through the fourth.

(3) St. Mary's 48, (10) Lamar 36

Lamar St. Mary's girls basketball

(Ray Chen/ArrayPhoto.com)

St. Mary’s is also headed to the state final after beating defending champion Lamar 48-36.

Makenna Bodette had 24 points and Seneca Hackley added 16 points in the win.

The Pirates (25-1) will face league-rival CSCS in an all-Colorado Springs finale. The teams split the season series with St. Mary’s winning by three on Feb. 9 and the Lions winning the district final by one on Feb. 24.

St. Mary’s broke a 30-all tie late in the third quarter, scoring 12 of the next 16 points to take a 42-34 lead with 3:08 remaining. The Pirates hit six free throws in the last 2:30 to seal the game.

The Savages (21-5) were awarded a 10 seed in the bracket but beat No. 7 Sterling and No. 2 Pagosa Springs en route to their second straight semifinals appearance.

The girls’ state final will begin at 4 p.m. at Hamilton Gym. The boys’ final will follow at 6 p.m.