LOVELAND — That special championship feeling never loses its luster — just ask the Kit Carson girls basketball team.
The Wildcats celebrated on the floor of the Budweiser Events Center as if they had never been here before.
But they have. Just last year, when they won their first state title in program history. Then again on Saturday, when they repeated as Class 1A state champions following a 63-39 win over Kim/Branson, raising the trophy yet again.
And it was just as special as the first time around.
“This one feels even a little more sweet, if that’s at all possible,” coach Sara Crawford said. “Last year was amazing, too. But this year we always ran into those little challenges that we had to overcome. … It’s a lot of pressure (to repeat). But we tried not to worry about being perfect.”
Try or not, Kit Carson was indeed perfect — capping off an untouched season with a 25-0 record, just as it did in 2016-17. The second consecutive undefeated run now brings the program to an astonishing 98-2 mark over the past four years.
“It feels awesome. It all just keeps piling on and giving us more energy to go into another season,” junior Olivia Isenbart said. “We always keep working and improving, even when it seems like there’s no room to go.”
Though the final score suggests otherwise, top-seeded Kit Carson was tested early on by a No. 2 Kim/Branson team willing to take on the challenge. The Mustangs (21-4) held their own despite poor shooting that hindered them through the first two quarters, going into halftime trailing by just six points, 25-19.
But the Wildcats were quick to show why they’re the top 1A team for a reason. They returned from the break on an 8-0 run to open the second half and began to distance themselves from their opponent. As the game entered the final quarter, the writing on the wall started to show how it would end.
“We talked about playing with a little bit more emotion (at halftime) and loosening up a bit,” Crawford said. “They knew they had it, and needed to create it for themselves. That goes back to them being there for each other.”
Kit Carson was led by a scoring trio that accounted for all but 10 of its points. Olivia Isenbart set the tone by putting up a game-high 25 points. Fellow junior Tess Hornung scored 18 points of her own and senior Micayla Isenbart added 11.
Runner-up Kim/Branson had two players reach double-digit scoring figures as senior Joni Brown had a team-high 13 points while senior Ashley Yergert scored 10.
“We’ll carry this momentum over into the next season,” Isenbart said.
When asked about the possibility of a third straight perfect season, she responded with a smile and said:
“That’s the plan.”