DENVER — Lakewood didn’t have much of a problem with the rematch against Class 5A Jeffco League rival Ralston Valley on March 2. “If we play like this I think we are unstoppable,” …
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DENVER — Lakewood didn’t have much of a problem with the rematch against Class 5A Jeffco League rival Ralston Valley on March 2.
“If we play like this I think we are unstoppable,” Lakewood’s 6-foot-5 senior Camilla Emsbo said. “If we keep this love between us we are going places.”
The No. 2-seeded and last year’s 5A state runner-up sprinted out to a 15-0 lead in the opening minutes in the girls basketball state quarterfinal game and never let off the gas. The Tigers (23-3 record) ended up with a 61-37 victory.
“They are surpassing my expectations,” Lakewood coach Chris Poisson said after the 24-point victory. “It’s nuts what they are doing.”
Friday’s all-Jeffco state quarterfinal was the third time Lakewood and Ralston Valley had met this season. The Mustangs won the first go-around 59-45 in the 5A Jeffco League opener on Jan. 4. The Tigers got revenge Jan. 26 with a 50-44 win at Ralston Valley.
It was all Lakewood in the Great 8 game. The Tigers’ five starters — Emsbo (13 points), Jessica Woodhead (6 points), Hannah Renstrom (11 points), Nadia Trevino (16 points) and Sassy Coleman (5 points) — looked like a well-oiled machine on both ends of the court. The Tigers’ defense held the Mustangs (21-5) to 23.8 percent shooting in the first half and 35.3 percent for the game.
“It’s great to know that your teammates have your back,” Emsbo said. “It feels a lot different that last year. I had a lot more on my shoulders last year. Everyone is carrying their load, which is fun. Everyone was doing their part and that is a championship team.”
Lakewood was money from behind the arc going 9-for-16 from 3-point range. On the flip side, Ralston Valley was just 3-for-12 from long distance.
“Nadia is on fire,” Poisson said of the Tigers’ sophomore guard that was 4-for-5 from 3-point range through the first three quarters. “We aren’t just Camilla. We are a team and a collection of kids. They are all playing out of their minds.”
Lakewood and Ralston Valley have dominated the 5A Jeffco conference for the past decade.
“It’s about our intensity,” Trevino said of the Tigers’ start. “We come out so strong and are determined to win.”
The Mustangs were led by freshman guard Sydney Bevington, who finished with a team-high 15 points. She was the lone Ralston Valley player in double-digit points.
Lakewood is set for a rematch against No. 6-seeded Regis Jesuit. The state semifinal game is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 8, back at the Denver Coliseum. The Tigers and Raiders met up earlier this season at the La Jolla County Day Tournament in California. Regis took a 59-42 victory.
“We are in this tournament to play great teams,” Emsbo said of facing the Raiders. “I couldn’t be more excited about it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Regis advanced to the Final 4 in the first quarterfinal of the night at the Denver Coliseum. The Raiders overcame a slow start against No. 3 Horizon to eventually take a 57-43 victory. Freshman Avery Vansickle led the way for the Raiders with 12 points.
“Coming into the tournament they were the best team,” Poisson said of Regis. “When we played them in California we were different then we are right now. They are going to be better too. We’ll get ready.”
This is the second straight Final 4 appearance for the Tigers. Last season, Lakewood got wins over Highlands Ranch and Cherry Creek down at the Denver Coliseum to advance to the Tigers’ first girls basketball state championship game.
Grandview ended the Cinderella story by taking a 61-32 victory over Lakewood in last year’s 5A title game.
Dennis Pleuss is a communications specialist for Jeffco Public Schools with a focus on athletics and activities. For more Jeffco coverage go to CHSAANow.com/Jeffco
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