ARVADA — Amanda Neff is making a name for herself while following in the footsteps at of her older brothers — Thomas and Luke — at Arvada West High School.
“It’s cool to have my brothers and stuff,” Amanda said of her two brothers that had stellar careers at A-West before both played at the University of Denver. “But I want to make my own name too.”
Neff had her breakout game Saturday afternoon on the Wildcats’ home court against Dakota Ridge. The sophomore poured in a career-high 29 points to lead A-West to a 64-47 victory.
“She (Neff) had a complete basketball game today,” A-West coach Brady Meeks said. “That’s what I’ve been expecting from her all year. It’s nice to see that come out in a big league win for us today. It wasn’t just her scoring today. She did a great job on defense and gobbled up her (rebounds) like she normally does. She was making the right basketball decisions.”
A-West (11-6, 2-1 in Class 5A Jeffco) had a decent first half, but trailed Dakota Ridge (7-9, 1-2) at halftime — 25-22. The Wildcats took the lead early in the third quarter when they scored five points over the span of one second.
Sophomore Jasmyn Williams, who hit her career-high with 18 points, made a layup and was fouled. Williams missed the free throw, but junior Madison Manson grabbed the rebound, scored, was fouled and was able to convert her 3-point play.
“We’ve had a hard time getting to 40 points in some games this year,” Meeks said. “Amanda had a great game and Jasmyn really stepped up her game as well. At halftime we really talked about how we were we going to win the game and it was by slowing down a little bit.”
A key 12-0 run in the fourth quarter put the game away. A-West made a living at the foul line in the second half. The Wildcats finished going 19-for-27 from the line after halftime.
A-West outscored Dakota Ridge 42-22 in the second half.
“Credit goes to the girls,” Meeks said of the Wildcats outscoring the Eagles by 20 points in the second half. “They adjusted to just the simple execution items.”
Neff nearly hit the 30-point mark. She missed a free throw in the final minute that would have given her 30 points.
“I knew this was going to be a tough game and I knew we had to get going early,” Neff said after her breakout game that included two 3-pointers and going 11-for-13 from the charity stripe. “I just started scoring in the flow of the game.”
Dakota Ridge senior Emily Doolittle poured in 14 of her team-high 18 points in the second half to keep the Eagles within striking distance. However, it wasn’t enough to get the road victory.
“I think this is the first time we’ve got more than one league win in a few years,” said Meeks, who is in his second year at the helm of A-West’s girls basketball program. “I think the game against Lakewood proved we aren’t the doormat of the league anymore. I think we are moving in the right direction.”
Lakewood edged A-West 56-50 early in the week, but Meeks took it as a positive that the Wildcats are a team on the rise and able to compete with some of the historically good programs in 5A Jeffco.
It’s clear the youngest Neff will be a big part of the growth that is yet to come.
“I’m really happy that this year our team and program has improved a lot,” Neff said.
A-West returns to the court at Bear Creek on Wednesday next week. Dakota Ridge has a non-league game at home against Legacy on Monday before getting back into conference play at home versus Chatfield on Friday, Feb. 7.