DENVER — Green Mountain’s greatest girls basketball season in the school’s history came to a close Thursday, March 12, at the Denver Coliseum. No. 3-seeded Rams lost to No. 7 Holy Family 38-31 …
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DENVER — Green Mountain’s greatest girls basketball season in the school’s history came to a close Thursday, March 12, at the Denver Coliseum.
No. 3-seeded Rams lost to No. 7 Holy Family 38-31 in the Class 4A state semifinal. The Tigers — 6-time state champions under coach Ron Rossi — never trailed, but Green Mountain did close within 16-13 in the third quarter.
“We didn’t quit,” Green Mountain coach Darren Pitzner said. “The intensity in the third quarter almost got us back in the game.”
A 3-pointer by Green Mountain freshman Jayda Maves with 3:10 left in the third quarter cut Holy Family’s lead to just 3 points. However, that was as close as the Rams could get.
Green Mountain shot 10-for-40 (25 percent) from the field. Holy Family was even worse going 11-for-49 (22.4 percent) shoot, but the big difference was from the free-throw line.
“Those shots inside just couldn’t fall,” Pitzner said as the Rams’ shooting from the field. “It was very physical inside. We tend to get to the free-throw line a lot more. Tonight we didn’t get to the line much.”
Holy Family went 15-for-22 from the free-throw line, including making a dozen of those from the charity stripe in the final quarter. The Rams had just 11 trips to the line total making 9 free throws.
Green Mountain’s 18 turnovers compared to Holy Family’s eight turnovers also made a difference.
“Honestly, in the first half Holy Family just outworked us and out hustled us a little bit,” Green Mountain senior Kasey Klocek said.
Despite the loss, the 24-3 record compiled during the historic season for the Rams is something that will go into Green Mountain’s record books.
“I attribute a lot of the success to the positive attitude of our seniors,” Pitzner said of his three seniors Riley Shoemaker, Maddie Phillips and Klocek. “That rubbed off on the whole program. It’s amazing to see the growth that happens organically through a group of great kids working together.”
The Rams won their first conference title since the 1994 season.
“I know it’s the start of something,” Pitzner said. “I’m hugely excited about what we have coming back. The program has the chance to continue to get better and better, but that his going to take a lot of work. We aren’t at the level of those very top teams yet.”
Pitzner returns his top three scorers in junior Courtney Hank, sophomore Avery Oaster and Maves, along with four other key contributors.
“It was really exciting being able to play here,” Hank said advancing to the Final 4 at the Denver Coliseum. “I never thought coming to Green Mountain that I would have the opportunity to play here. I’m proud my team got this far.”
The atmosphere at the Denver Coliseum didn’t feel like a Final 4 state championship tournament. The COVID-19 pandemic created major changes, including limiting the crowd to just four fans per player, essential staff and media.
“It was kind of an emotional roller coaster,” Klocek said while it was in doubt if the semifinals would be played. “At the end of the day we’ve played in front of 50 fans. It was like we were just right back at home.”
Shortly after the 4A and 5A girls basketball semifinals were played, it was announced late night on March 12 that the remainder of all state basketball tournament would be cancelled because of the declaration of a state of emergency by the City of Denver and the likelihood that venues would be closed by government agencies, which did happen March 13.
“Everything we’ve done up to this point was to try and keep the experience of a state basketball tournament for our student participants and high school communities,” said Colorado High School Activities Association commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green. “In the face of this unprecedented public health emergency, we are compelled to discontinue play in all tournaments.”
It was announced on March 12 that all spring sports — including practices and games — across Colorado would be postponed from March 13 to April 6, with the situation being reevaluated on Monday, April 6.
Klocek is one of thousands of Jeffco student-athletes who have to wait and see if there is a spring sports season. She has already signed her National Letter of Intent to run cross country and track at South Dakota State University.
“I hope I can run on the track,” Klocek said of the upcoming spring sport season that is even in question with the COVID-19 pandemic. “If it doesn’t happen it would for good reasons.”
Dennis Pleuss is a media specialist for Jeffco Public Schools with a focus on athletics and activities. For more Jeffco coverage, go online at CHSAANow.com.
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