LOVELAND — The best teams in sport are often the ones with the best chemistry.
The chemistry on the Yuma girls basketball team couldn’t have been much better if it were scientifically engineered.
That bond carried Yuma, the No. 1 seed in the Class 2A girls tournament, to its second state championship in three years Saturday at the Budweiser Events Center.
Led by juniors Cody Robinson and Chasey Blanch, two friends since the fourth grade, Yuma put an end to No. 7 Clear Creek’s quest for gold with a 45-23 rout in the title game.
Robinson led all scorers with 18 points, while Blach was close behind with 17 of her own. The two linked up on a number of assists and were among the first to embrace when the final buzzer sounded.
“We’ve all been working so hard for this for so many years,” Robinson said. “We’re all such a close group. I’ve never been part of such a close group of girls. The chemistry is just always there, and this is what we’ve all been talking about. It’s been a dream of ours, so it feels amazing.”
Yuma couldn’t have asked for a much better start to the championship game, taking a 13-1 lead after the first eight minutes on a run which was capped by a buzzer-beating runner by Robinson.
On the other end, Clear Creek couldn’t buy a field goal and senior facilitator Rachel Lucas was stuck on the sideline for a majority of the quarter after early foul troubles.
As the Golddiggers struggled to gain footing, managing just three field goals in the first half, Robinson and company parlayed their hot start into a 22-8 halftime advantage.
“We wanted to come out with fire so that they couldn’t come out with a hot start, too,” Robinson said. “We didn’t want to get down and have to come back, so having the confidence and being able to start fast was key.
In the second half, the rapport between Robinson and Blach only got better. Blach dished an assist to Robinson to start the scoring in the second half, and the two combined for 11 points in the third quarter alone to push the advantage to 36-18.
Clear Creek remained aggressive in the fourth as Grace Werlin, who had a knack for shooting the long ball all year, finally converted on a 3-pointer with just over five minutes to play after missing her previous five attempts.
Werlin and Lucas, the two leading scorers for Clear Creek on its magical run in its first ever state tournament appearance, were held to a combined 13 points.
“We played really defense tonight on them,” Yuma coach Bob Rahm said. “We were just trying to limit their touches as much as we could.”
Yuma’s most recent title drought lasted all but one year, winning the title in 2016 before finishing third a year ago. And with the Yuma boys playing for a title immediately after seing their counterparts walk off victorious, it’s obvious that the hardwood chemistry runs deep throughout the town.
“The fans, the parents, the community, they all really buy into it,” Rahm said. “These kids play a lot of ball from a young age. Our summer is what really gets us, we go and challenge a lot of bigger schools and try to play the best. This is where all of that pays off at the end of the season.”