Hannah Simental has Pueblo West girls basketball thriving on the court

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

As a kid, basketball wasn't Hannah Simental's first love. While her older sister Haley and her older brother David were finding their groove on the court, Hannah was all about dancing.

Her father David was a big basketball guy, but around third grade Hannah decided that basketball wasn't her thing. She stopped playing and started focusing on dance, an activity that matches her personality even to this day.

But as she got older and watched her siblings on the floor, the more she was drawn back to the sport that her family has thrived in at Pueblo West High School.

"Around middle school I kind of wanted to go back to it," she said. "From then on I'd go to a camp at the high school and since then I've always played it. I like the competitiveness. I just had to go back to it."

And the Cyclones are thrilled she did. Simental has been a steady presence in West's backcourt her entire high school career.

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

Since her sophomore season - where she averaged 18 points per game - she has been one of the top players in all of Class 4A.

"I thought she was a senior last year," a tournament worker at the Rampart Holiday Classic said after she took the floor.

He doesn't say it because she looks older than the rest of the players on the floor. Quite the opposite, in fact. If she was announced as a sophomore, the eye test says that'd be accurate.

She is now a senior and will head to the University of Northern Colorado to play basketball next year.

"They came for a home visit and when they came they just had really great values and they really persuaded me with their faith and just the way they want to coach," Sminetal said.

She was sold.

But before she gets to Greeley, she wants to come through on her last chance to help the Cyclones win a state championship. They're always regarded as a top team in the state, but have suffered from tough defeats in the state basketball tournament.

She saw her brother David raise a state championship trophy with Cyclones in 2016 and wants the chance to do that no just for herself, but for the girls she takes the floor with each game.

"She wants to win," Cyclones coach Gil Lucero said. "She's very encouraging of her teammates and I think she gets the best out of them."

Lucero has been with Simental her entire career. He saw Haley play and watched enough of David to see that the competitive spirit of those two lives on in Hannah. But she stands out very much in her own way.

"She's very different from her siblings in the sense of being very outgoing," Lucero said. "Haley was very reserved, her mission was to win basketball games. Hannah just has such a bubbly personality and is very outgoing and just kind of goofy and likes to mess around and have a good time."

But when game time rolls around, she's all business on the court. In a way, Hannah the basketball player is complete alter-ego than Hannah the smiling high school student walking the halls of Pueblo West High School.

"On the court is the one time I can be competitive," she said. "I don't have to do the super nice kid sometimes."

And that's how it plays out at times. In three of her first four games of the year, she scored at least 20 points. And as long as her play thrives, so the Cyclones. Through Jan. 16, they remained undefeated and the No. 1 team in the 4A RPI.

And when the offense needs a spark, like it did early in West's 45-32 win over Pine Creek on Thursday it's Simental who can take control.

Her organized dancing days might be over but she's hoping that she and the Cyclones will be dancing with joy come March.

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)