3A girls basketball: Platte Valley battles to state title win over Lutheran

COLORADO SPRINGS — The fifth girls basketball title for Platte Valley is a family thing.

Three sets of siblings and some of their closest friends battled through a tough fourth quarter, getting the ultimate reward at the end. Seventeen years after last hoisting the trophy, Platte Valley beat Lutheran 51-44 to claim the Class 3A girls basketball championship.

And in the strangest of years, the championship game was the first time during the entire playoff run that the Broncos (16-1 overall) played an opponent that didn't come out of the Patriot League.

"We were kind of hoping that we'd see someone different that we hadn't played yet," coach Tonya Schissler said. "It felt like our district tournament getting through the state tournament. These girls did a great job playing as a team. That's what got us through it."

Platte Valley Lutheran girls basketball

More photos. (PaulDiSalvoPhotography.com)

That team is made up of two of her daughters as well as two other sets of siblings. But even considering the girls that aren't related, this team has felt like a family for a really long time.

"It's so fun, we've all played together for so long," Bree Bunting said. "We're so familiar with each other and it's so much fun to see our hard from when we were really young to now pay off."

The trust in each other was the primary factor, however. The Broncos jumped out to a 9-1 lead to start the game, but Lutheran's Stephanie Schultz erased in the blink of an eye. The two teams battled into halftime where Platte Valley held a three-point lead.

The Lions (15-2) started knocking down big shots in the third quarter and Raelyn Kelty scored seven of her 11 points in that quarter, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer that gave them a 34-32 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

But the Broncos weren't phased. They knew they had the mental toughness to keep the momentum from fully swinging back to the Lions.

Cora Schissler scored eight of her game-high 15 points in the fourth as the Broncos pulled ahead and refused to let go of the lead.

"They came out strong in that third quarter," Schissler said. "We came right back out and knew that this was the last game of our season no matter what. We had to give it our all."

That's exactly what they did. There was a brief moment of panic when Bree Bunting fouled out, but even as she watched from the bench, she knew the game was in capable hands. It all goes back to that family trust.

"It was tough," Bunting said. "But I was so glad my team was able to carry it out and they played hard and did such a great job."

The last time the Broncos won a girls basketball title was 2004 when they beat Lamar 85-77. This also completes a one-loss season for the Broncos. They fell to Vanguard back on Jan. 30. The Coursers were the No. 1 seed heading into the 3A tournament but lost to Lutheran in the semifinals.

Platte Valley Lutheran girls basketball

More photos. (PaulDiSalvoPhotography.com)

Platte Valley Lutheran girls basketball

More photos. (PaulDiSalvoPhotography.com)