LITTLETON — Wednesday night served as a girls basketball preview of the Class 5A Jeffco League.
Valor Christian moved from 4A Jeffco up to the 5A Jeffco this year after winning back-to-back 4A state titles in 2015 and 2016. The Eagles, ranked No. 7 in the latest CHSAANow.com Class 5A girls basketball poll, had a road test at Columbine on Wednesday.
Valor looked impressive from start to finish taking a 54-24 victory over the Rebels (1-2 record).
“We scheduled this for a reason. To kind of see where we are and see what we have to work on,” Columbine coach Greg Bolding Jr. said. “We knew Valor is great from top to bottom and in-between. It was good for my team to see where we are and where we need to get to.”
Columbine and Valor square off on the Eagles’ home court on Jan. 19 in their one conference meeting. This year 5A Jeffco went away from every team facing each other in home and away games during league play.
“It’s great to feel out a new league for us,” Valor coach Jessika Caldwell said. “I know Columbine is just going to continue to get better. We’ll keep building on what we are trying to work on.”
Valor sophomore Kindyll Wetta nearly outscored Columbine’s entire team. The sophomore guard was 8-for-15 from the fielding, including three 3-pointers on her way to a game-high 20 points.
Wetta was having a brilliant freshman campaign, but she suffered a torn ACL and MCL a few games into 4A Jeffco League play that abruptly ended her season. The guard was averaging 13.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5 assists and 4.8 steals per game last season before the season-ending injury. Valor eventually lost in the round of 16 of the 4A state tournament without Wetta.
“It’s definitely a great feeling,” Wetta said about being back on the court. “I love basketball. I’m thrilled to be back out here. This team is great.”
Caldwell believes playing the final stretch last year without Wetta has helped develop the young talent and made the Eagles more experienced heading into their first season in 5A.
“It hurt really bad to lose her,” Caldwell said of the injury to Wetta midway through last season. “It was neat to see Jenna Siebert and Karissa Lukasiewicz get more time last year. I think that has benefited us.”
Ten players ended up scoring for Valor (4-1) in the victory against Columbine. Freshman Raegan Beers poured in 10 points and Lukasiewicz added seven points.
Valor host Douglas County coming up on Friday night before heading to Las Vegas for the Tarkanian Classic. The Eagles advanced to the semifinals of the tournament last year.
“First season playing in 5A there is a little bit of pressure,” Wetta said. “I think we’ll be able to handle ourselves out there.”
Columbine has had to handle the season so far without senior Maura Singer. The recent University of Colorado women’s basketball signer is still recovering from knee surgery. The 6-foot-4 senior was on the bench cheering on her teammate Wednesday.
The Rebels are also very young with season with just two seniors in Singer and Ellie Barrows. Freshman Jessica Bollwahn was a bright spot scoring nine points in the loss. The Rebels also head out of state next week to play in the Nike Tournament of Champions.
“It’s easy to schedule games that we could go 5-0 to start the season, but that isn’t going to get us to our goal at the end of the season,” Bolding said. “It was good to play Valor early.”