LAKEWOOD — Green Mountain junior Olivia Sears gave potential girls basketball playoff opponents something else to worry about in the Rams’ regular-season finale.
The Rams’ point guard drained five 3-pointers on her way to a career-high 17 points as Green Mountain defeated Evergreen 60-25 on Wednesday night.
“That’s never happened,” Sears said of her career-high five 3-pointers in one game. “I’ve never made that many 3s before. I was surprised.”
It wasn’t much of a surprise that Green Mountain (14-0 record) — No. 1 in the latest CHSAANow.com Class 4A rankings — completed the program’s first undefeated regular-season record to add to its back-to-back Class 4A Jeffco League titles.
The Rams have won every game by double-digit points this year and have a 28-game conference winning streak dating back to the 2018-19 season.
“It’s really nice to see all our hard work pay off,” Green Mountain’s lone senior Courtney Hank said of the Rams going 14-0 during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s definitely scary not knowing if we are going to have another practice or game, but it made us work that much harder. I’m really looking forward to seeing how far we go this year.”
The formula of inside-outside offensively and a lockdown defense worked to a tee against Evergreen (10-4). Hank and junior Avery Oaster dominated in the paint early. Sears and sophomore Jayda Maves lit it up from 3-point range to give the Rams a commanding 38-8 lead at halftime.
Maves scored all of her 15 points in the first half. Sears got it going in the second quarter with a pair of 3-pointers and a driving layup. Junior Morgan Falconer came off the bench to hit a 3-pointer as the Rams had five straight field goals that were all 3-pointers in the second quarter.
“The inside-outside balance is so huge because we feel like we have an answer for a number of different defenses,” Green Mountain coach Darren Pitzner said. “We still have a lot of work to do, but I’m really happy about the career game for (Sears) and all the hard work she has put in.”
Hank went back to work down low in the second half to finish with 13 points, while Sears remained hot with a trio of 3-pointers after the break.
“A lot of players have stepped up this year,” Hank said. “It’s fun to work it inside and then you have a lot of shooters on the perimeter. Since we are so diverse and well-balanced that has contributed on how well we’ve done this season.”
The Cougars had their 4-game winning streak snapped in its regular-season finale before the start of the playoffs. However, Evergreen coach Maddy Hornecker believes her squad to take a lot away from the loss.
“I learned about how we want to play for the playoffs,” Hornecker said. “We came in here with nothing to lose.”
Hornecker had a front-row seat being an assistant coach on Evergreen’s back-to-back 4A state championship teams in 2017 and 2018. She knows what it takes to win a state title.
“Obviously, all of us 4A Jeffco coaches were like, ‘How can get Green Mountain there?’ We want them to represent our conference,” Hornecker said. “What I have learned is the combination of a really good guard and a really good post. Green Mountain has two really good guards and two really good guards. That combination I hope carries them. I wish them nothing but the best.”
Pitzner said he appreciates all the support he has received from his fellow 4A Jeffco coaches leading up to the start of the state tournament that beings Tuesday, March 9.
“There are great coaches who have become friends in the this league. I love how we all support each other,” said Pitzner, who added that Evergreen has always been a tough opponent through the years and are all ways well-coached.
Green Mountain turns its attentions to the postseason and likely one of the top seeds for the 4A state tournament. With all games except the state title games Friday, March 19, at the World Arena in Colorado Springs being played at the higher-seed, the Rams likely will get a chance to play on their home court throughout the playoffs.
The Rams last loss came last season in the 4A state semifinals against Holy Family at the Denver Coliseum.
“There is nothing better than playing on your home court in your home jersey and home fans,” Hank said. “It will definitely give us a step up on our opponents.”
Pitzner said he will put valuable use to a handful of practices before the Rams’ playoff opener.
“We don’t want to take a breath of relief, but we are going to reset a little bit,” Pitzner said. “It is nice to be one of the first teams in the state to get your 14 games in.”
Green Mountain is actually the lone undefeated 4A team in the state. Falcon lost its first game of the year on Wednesday night to Columbine to leave the Rams as the only 14-0 girls team in 4A.
“We just have to be all-in, focused and sharp,” Sears said looking head of the Rams’ playoff run. “We have to be sharp in practices too.”