COLORADO SPRINGS — For Raegan Beers, basketball season has officially begun and she wasted no time in letting the state know that she intends to do some damage for a long time.
The Valor Christian freshman was dominant in the paint and scored a game-high 33 points as Class 5A No. 6 Valor Christian beat 4A No. 3 Pueblo West 65-50 on Day 2 of the Rampart Holiday Classic.
"It wasn't all about me," Beers said. We had to play as a team to win tonight and that's what we did. Yes I scored a lot of points but that just means someone else had a lot of assists."
From a scoreboard standpoint, she set the tone early and that ended up having a crucial result in the outcome. She scored eight of the Eagles' 14 points in the first quarter. The other six came off two 3-pointers from Sara Nealy.
Down early, the Cyclones (10-2 overall) battled back as junior guard Hannah Simental finally got going offensively. After going scoreless in the first quarter she three 3-pointers in the second and helped the Cyclones take a 31-30 lead into halftime.
"It's such a game of runs and we knew that Pueblo West was capable of making some runs because they can hit some 3's," Valor coach Jessika Caldwell said. "They did and we turned the ball over on consecutive possessions trying to force the ball inside. For us it's about trying to figure out our identity offensively."
The teams kept an even pace through the third quarter and the Eagles (10-2) continued to pound the ball inside to Beers. The lone field goal for Valor beyond Beers in the third quarter came on a Jenna Siebert 3-pointer. Caldwell stresses the importance of having Beers in the post and the attention on her giving the Valor guards open shots as a result.
"She is a phenomenal post player and a big presence," Caldwell said. "We work a lot on having to inside out."
Tied at 45 going into the fourth quarter, the game had played out like a the result could easily be decided on a coin flip. But the Eagles quickly shifted the odds much more favorable on their side. They scored 11 quick points in the quarter forcing a West timeout. Valor never looked back.
After being down early, the Cyclones had battled back, taken the lead and then had the game get away from them late.
"That's always been something we try to focus on is consistency and playing four quarters," coach Gil Lucero said. "We got down early and had to comeback and fight just to get the game even. We did a good job of that and then just ran out of gas in the fourth quarter."
Simental led West with 21 points, but all but one of them came in the second and third quarters. Gabby Louther added 11. A clear top-five team in 4A, a neutral site game against a talented team figures to only help the Cyclones down the road.
"We're going to get better from this," Simental said. "We haven't seen a team like this in a while."
The contest also figures to help the Eagles. The 5A picture is crowded at the top as teams like Regis Jesuit, Grandview and Cherry Creek all look to figure into the championship picture when March rolls around.
But if the combination of Beers down low and the guards hitting shots continues to work, Valor can't be counted out.
Even when the Cyclones took the lead at halftime on Friday, Caldwell continued utilizing the offense the same way resulting in a memorable night for her freshman.
"I was stressed," Beers said. "I kept saying in my head I need to pass back out or just go up with it. That's what coach Jess always says that we have to go inside out to win and that's what we did."