No. 9 Ralston Valley girls basketball relies on defense against Columbine

ARVADA — An injury caused the air to come out of Ralston Valley High School’s gym early on in the first quarter Saturday night.

In a non-league girls basketball game between Ralston Valley — No. 9 in the CHSAANow.com Class 5A rankings — and Columbine the headliner was the return of University of Colorado women’s basketball commit Maura Singer. Columbine’s 6-foot-4 senior signed in November to play hoops at CU after finishing up her career at Columbine.

Columbine senior Maura Singer (20) challenges the shot of Ralston Valley sophomore Sydney Bevington (33) during the opening moments of Saturday game. Singer landed on Bevington's foot and injured her right knee. It was Singer's first game back after knee surgery on her left knee last summer. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Singer suffered a torn ACL in her left knee last summer. Saturday was her first action this season for the Rebels after surgery. Unfortunately, her comeback lasted 32 seconds.

Ralston Valley sophomore Sydney Bevington pulled up for a deep jumper on the Mustangs’ first offensive possession and Singer came out to challenge the shot. Singer collided with Bevington with both ending up on the floor. Singer was immediately in pain and grabbed her right knee.

“There was a big pop. I think she just landed on my foot. It’s sad,” Bevington said after leading the Mustangs to a 45-35 victory. “She (Singer) is a really good player. I felt really bad.”

Singer didn’t return to the game and iced her knee on the Rebels’ bench.

“I felt bad. That was the worst thing you could see happen,” Ralston Valley coach Jeff Gomer said of Singer getting hurt in her first game back. “You don’t want that to happen to any kid and she has been through a lot.”

Ralston Valley freshman Saya Sabus (2) tries to maintain control as Columbine senior Ellie Barrows (5) takes a swipe at the ball. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Columbine coach Greg Bolding Jr. said after the game that Singer’s right knee would be evaluated to see what the extent of the damage.

“Maura has been one of my kids for years,” said Bolding, who has coached Singer at the club level too. “She worked her butt off to get to this point. It just wasn’t meant to be right now. It was disappointing, but it is what it is.”

Bolding was pleased how his team responded after losing Singer. The Rebels (3-5 record) went toe-to-toe with the Mustangs (7-4) before Ralston Valley was able to outscore Columbine 19-11 in the fourth quarter to take the 10-point victory.

It was a defensive game with Ralston Valley making just 11 field goals. Columbine was held to 10 field goal on the night.

“We’ve had to rely on defense all year,” Gomer said. “Until we come around offensively we are going to have to do that.”

Columbine sophomore Adrienne Harnum, middle, is flanked by Ralston Valley's Ellie Schweiker, left, and Brooklyn Seymour during Saturday's game. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Ralston Valley was 1-for-15 from 3-point range. The Mustangs scored nearly half of their points from the free-throw line going 22-for-31 from the charity stripe.

“I think we are going to get more chemistry,” said Bevington, who scored a game-high 15 points of 11 came via the free throw. “After losing our seniors from last year we are trying to work out somethings out on the court. We are just going to keep getting better.”

The young Ralston Valley team faces another 5A Jeffco foe in Dakota Ridge coming up next week. The Mustangs host the Eagles at 7 p.m. Tuesday in what will be counted as a non-league game.

“It’s going to be an interesting league,” Gomer said about conference play that won’t start up until mid-January for most 5A Jeffco teams.

Freshman Jessica Bollwahn led the Rebels with 11 points in the loss. Columbine hosts Chaparral at 7 p.m. Monday to continue non-league play.

“I think (5A Jeffco) is down a little bit when it comes to scoring,” Bolding said. “It’s going to be a defensive battle. Whoever executes the most on the offensive side is what it’s going to come down to.”

Ralston Valley junior Madison Young, far right, drives to the basket during the Mustangs' 45-35 victory Saturday night against Columbine. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)