ARVADA — The new girls basketball team on the block in the Class 5A Jeffco League will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
“When I heard (Valor Christian) was coming into (5A Jeffco) you knew the league title was going to go through Valor,” said Ralston Valley coach Jeff Gomer, who has guided the Mustangs to five conference titles over the past decade. “We have to figure a way to beat them because they are going to have talent. Somebody has to figure out how to beat them. We didn’t.”
There are still six conference games left for Valor (14-2, 2-0 in 5A Jeffco) over the next four weeks, but a 57-47 victory over Ralston Valley (10-5, 1-1) put the Eagles squarely in the driver’s seat for the 5A Jeffco League title.
“To experience 5A Jeffco on the road for the first time, this was a good quality win for our girls,” said Valor coach Jessika Caldwell, who led the Eagles to back-to-back 4A state titles in 2015 and 2016. “Ralston Valley is great team with a lot of weapons. I told our girls it was going to be a defensive battle and it was on both sides.”
Valor, No. 6 in the latest 5A girls basketball CHSAANow.com rankings, was locked in a defensive battle through the first half. Valor held a 19-16 lead on No. 8 Ralston Valley at halftime, but the Eagles never trailed in the second half.
Freshman Raegan Beers used her 6-foot-2 frame to dominate the inside scoring 14 of her game-high 21 points in the second half.
“Our defenders started extending too far and she (Beers) got to play one-on-one too much,” Gomer said of the second half. “We gave her too much space.”
Valor got scoring balance with sophomores Jenna Siebert (12 points), Sydney McKibbon (eight points) and Karissa Lukasiewicz (six points) contributing, along with the Eagles’ lone senior Sara Nealy pouring in 10 points.
Despite having a talented young group, the Eagles will be without star sophomore point guard Kindyll Wetta for the remainder of the season. Wetta, who verbally committed to the University of Colorado earlier this month, suffered a season-ending knee injury during Valor’s trip to Las Vegas to play in the Tarkanian Classic before winter break.
“We miss her,” Caldwell said of the loss of Wetta for the second straight year. “Jenna Siebert is doing a great job of managing the game. I’m so proud of what she continues to do from that point guard spot.”
Wetta averaged 18.6 points per game in seven games this season before the injury. A knee injury last season in the middle of 4A Jeffco League play ended her season last year.
“I didn’t realize how much we can come together as a team when she is out,” Beers said of the loss of Wetta. “We can do it all even without Kindyll. She is a great player and is a big asset that we’ve lost.”
Valor will put its 6-game winning streak on the line in another road test coming up Friday, Jan. 25. The Eagles face defending 5A Jeffco champion Lakewood (5-10, 2-0) at 7 p.m.
Ralston Valley dips out of conference play with an intriguing matchup against 4A’s No. 4 Evergreen. The Cougars, two-time defending 4A state champions, host the Mustangs at 4 p.m. Saturday during the front end of a girls/boys varsity doubleheader.
“That is our big weakness right now,” Gomer said of the Mustangs scoring just 16 points in the first half against Valor. “We go through these big droughts. You are going to win games scoring in the 30s and 40s. We’ve got to find away to put the ball in the hole.”
Ralston Valley senior Shelby Nichols led the way with 17 points against Valor. Freshman Saya Sabus poured in 14 points in the second half, including an impressive run of seven points in less than minute with a pair of 3-pointers and a free throw.
Ralston Valley gets back into league play at Columbine on Wednesday, Jan. 30.