DENVER — Green Mountain’s girls basketball team found that extra gear Wednesday night.
The Rams — No. 2 in this week’s CHSAANow.com Class 4A girls basketball rankings — got their biggest test of the season on the road against No. 10 D’Evelyn. The Jaguars suffered a 37-point loss to the Rams nine days earlier, but D’Evelyn was determined to give Green Mountain a better test the second time around.
“I was 100 percent sure that D’Evelyn was going to give us a great game and they did,” Green Mountain coach Darren Pitzner said after the Rams won their 11th straight on the season with a 78-53 victory. “I’m really proud of our girls how they stepped up.”
The game was much closer than the final 25-point margin. D’Evelyn (10-2 record) cut Green Mountain’s lead to 56-46 with a 3-pointer by freshman Macy Scheer to open the fourth quarter. However, the Rams (11-0) outscored the Jaguars 22-7 the rest of the game to win going away.
“I’m super proud,” D’Evelyn coach Chris Olson said of his Jaguars. “We talked about bouncing back. You sometimes don’t get a lot of chances to make up for something bad. Keeping it a 10-point game through three quarters is a feat against (Green Mountain).”
D’Evelyn pressure defense and much better shooting than its previous meeting with Green Mountain kept the Jaguars within striking distance for the majority of the game. Freshmen Macy Scheer and Peyton Marvel, along with junior Maddie Topping combined to lead D’Evelyn with 35 points.
However, in the end the talented Rams were just too much for the Jaguars to handle.
“This shows how good we can be,” Green Mountain sophomore Jayda Maves said.
Maves finished with 15 points, despite missing more than five minutes of the first quarter. The sophomore was fouled on a driving layup and hit her head against the padded wall behind the basket. After getting checked out by D’Evelyn trainer she was back on the court in the second quarter.
“Catching my breath was probably the hardest thing,” Maves said recovering after going full-force into the wall on the layup attempt. “I wanted to go back in no matter what.”
Maves ended up scoring 13 points in the second half.
It was a balanced scoring attack for the Rams as all five starters — Maves, Olivia Sears, Shea Murphy, Avery Oaster and Courtney Hank — finished in double-digit points. The starters combined for 70 points.
“Courtney and I definitely have a really good chemistry, but it isn’t just us. It’s a whole team thing,” Oaster said of how her and Hank dominated inside at times against the undersized Jaguars. “All of us shine during our moments because we are all working together.”
Hank finished with a game-high 21 points and Oaster finished with 14 points all in the paint or from the free-throw line.
“Our kids just get so tired trying to defend that,” Olson said of Hank and Oaster inside. “What I think they do so well in they are composed and don’t rush things. They are methodical how they play in the post.”
Green Mountain is well on its way to what D’Evelyn’s girls basketball program accomplished earlier this decade. The Jaguars won four straight 4A Jeffco titles from 2012 to 2015. D’Evelyn was 4A state runner-up in 2012 and 2013.
Evergreen took over the mantle of the dominant team in 4A Jeffco with three straight trips to the 4A championship game. Coach Amy Bahl led the Cougars to back-to-back 4A state titles in 2017 and 2018.
“This year we definitely have that window and we have to take advantage of it because we have Courtney,” Oaster said of last year’s 4A Jeffco League MVP and only starting senior for the Rams this year.
Another hurdle that Rams have in front of them is advancing to a state championship game. Green Mountain came close last season, losing to Holy Family 38-31 in the 4A state semifinals at the Denver Coliseum the day before the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the remainder of the state basketball tournament.
Olson, who guided those D’Evelyn teams to the state champion game twice nearly a decade ago, believe the Rams have what it takes to be that next 4A Jeffco team to go after a state title.
“They are definitely in that caliber,” Olson said of Green Mountain being a state championship contender this season. “You saw how they just blew this game open. It was a 10-point game and then all the sudden it’s a 25-point lead. I think they have a great shot. They have all the pieces.”
Green Mountain has a road game next week at Golden before closing out the regular season at home against Evergreen before the state tournament begins Tuesday, March 9.
“We are very excited and we have scoped out some teams be might play in the state tournament,” Maves said. “We are just so excited to finish up and hopefully become state champs for 2021.”
D’Evelyn is scheduled to host Littleton on Friday before travels to Wheat Ridge next week to prepare for its postseason run.
“This will help us moving forward and I hope it helps (Green Mountain),” Olson said. “We talked a little bit about the responsibility to our league and helping each other to get better.”
The back-to-back 4A Jeffco League champs and Falcon are the two remaining undefeated teams in 4A, but Pitzner know how tough it is to reach that state championship game.
“I’m optimistic about where we are at, but cautiously because I know how good the top 4A talent is,” Pitzner said. “I know we have work to do, but I’m excited and I love coming to practice every day. These girls are willing to do the work that it takes.”