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Green Mountain girls hoops building something special

DENVER — Green Mountain’s girls basketball team continues to check off its list of goals for the 2019-20 season.

The Rams — No. 4 in this week’s CHSAANow.com Class 4A rankings — have already clinched the program’s first Jeffco League title since 1993. Green Mountain wrapped up the conference title with a 56-38 road victory last Friday against Littleton.

“The girls definitely had league circled,” Green Mountain coach Darren Pitzner said Tuesday night after a 79-11 non-league road victory against Kennedy. “It was tough and a grind. I think they understood how tough it was going to be. It’s nice to lock up league, but the goals are definitely higher than that.”

Green Mountain sophomore Shea Murphy (14) prepares to get a shot up before Kennedy freshman Guadalupe Ramirez (20) can block the shot Tuesday night. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Green Mountain (20-2, 11-0 in 4A Jeffco) finishes off its league and regular-season schedule at home against Evergreen at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21. A chance for a 12-0 conference record is something the Rams is striving to accomplish before heading into the 48-team state tournament next week.

“We are going all out and going until the end,” Green Mountain senior Maddie Phillips said about heading into the regular-season finale Friday against Evergreen and then into the playoffs. “We are definitely not giving up. We just have to keep going hard so we can go deep into playoffs because that is our main goal.”

On Tuesday night, Green Mountain won its sixth straight game. The only two losses for the 20-win Rams is a loss to No. 2 Pueblo West before Winter Break and a 1-point setback against Class 5A’s ThunderRidge a few week’s ago.

Fittingly, the Rams had four players from four different classes score in double-figures against Kennedy (2-20). Phillips (15 points), junior Courtney Hank (14 points), sophomore Avery Oaster (15 points) and freshman Jayda Maves (12 points) led the Rams in scoring.

“Honestly, I didn’t even image it coming into this season,” Phillips said of what the team has already accomplished this season. “We all played different levels last year, but we came together as one this year. I think have all really grown as a team and individuals.”

Phillips and fellow senior Riley Shoemaker have both been on varsity since freshmen, even before Pitzner took over the program at the start of their sophomore season.

Green Mountain went 6-19, 4-10 in league two years ago. The Rams showed signs of what was yet to come last season with Green Mountain going 18-7, 10-2 to finish second in the conference behind Evergreen.

Green Mountain senior Riley Shoemaker, right, is fouled by Kennedy senior Ariana Torres during the first half Tuesday. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

“He (Pitzner) really brought our team and community really close together to build what we have now,” Shoemaker said. “Three years ago today I would have never thought we would be where we are today.”

The depth of talent at all four grade levels, along with a tenacious defense that has held seven teams to less than 20 points this year has been the winning formula for Green Mountain.

“Each year we kind of know what we are capable of, but the goal of the program is to run a quality program, have player development, to get better as a team and better as a family,” Pitzner said. “The girls are the ones who are building an awesome program.”

There is still work to be done this season. Green Mountain will get a first-round bye when the state bracket is released this weekend and host a second-round playoff game Friday, Feb. 28.

“For us it’s all about preparation,” Pitzner said about getting better in several areas over the next few weeks. “If we can check off all those boxes, all the things it will take, then we can make a run.”

Green Mountain sophomore Avery Oaster (224) works down low in traffic during Tuesday's road victory against Kennedy for the Rams. Green Mountain closes out its regular season at home against Evergreen on Friday, Feb. 21. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)