HIGHLANDS RANCH – It wasn’t a pretty game but ThunderRidge coach Bill Bradley wasn’t complaining.
Bradley’s Grizzlies defeated Castle View, 50-36, Tuesday night in a Continental League girls game at ThunderRidge.
The victory kept the Grizzlies tied with Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch for first place with one regular season game remaining.
The three teams have 9-1 league records and will share the Continental League title with finale wins. Highlands Ranch routed Ponderosa, 80-30, Tuesday night and Regis whipped Douglas County, 78-25.
ThunderRidge, 14-8 overall, hosts Rock Canyon Thursday. Highlands Ranch, 18-4, plays at Mountain Vista Friday and Regis, 20-2, goes to Ponderosa.
The Grizzlies, ranked No. 7 among Class 5A teams, never trailed against Castle View.
ThunderRidge, coming off wins last week over No. 6 Chaparral and then top-ranked Regis, jumped to an 8-0 lead in a game that never developed any flow because of the fouls that were called.
There were a total of 51 fouls in the game. The Grizzlies made only 31 percent of their field goal attempts and Castle View shot 30 percent from the field.
At one point a disgruntled fan yelled at the referees to put away their whistles.
“I don’t consider tonight a step backwards as ugly as that game was,” Bradley said. “I just think we were a victim of the game. I feel like we played well and will continue to play well.
“I’m really happy to win, at this time of the year it’s about a win. Rock Canyon is a real good basketball team. The winner of that game will help themselves a tremendous amount in the state tournament amount in bracketing and seeding.”
Castle View coach Matt Hema is hopeful the Sabercats (5-5 and 12-10) can secure a home game when next week’s state playoff brackets are announced.
“We should get a home playoff game,” Hema said. “We’ve got more league wins than last year and we got a home playoff game last year. If we beat Douglas County on Friday we’ll have six league wins and that puts us in sixth place in our league.
“The five teams above us are all Top 10 ranked teams or at least on the verge of being Top 10 ranked teams. I think that puts us in a spot to get a better spot than we had last year and we got an eighth last year. When you have to play the teams in our league, it’s just a killer.”
ThunderRidge, 4-7 early this season, has written the feel-good, turnaround story of this campaign. The Grizzlies have won six straight games and moved into position to share the league title.
Grizzlies senior point guard Brianna Throop took game scoring honors Tuesday night with 17 points and hit a key 3-point basket in the second half when Castle View pulled to within eight points of the Grizzlies.
“We lost some games early that we didn’t expect,” said Throop. “We used every loss in the preseason as a learning experience. I think that’s really gotten us to where we are today. The last couple games have been well executed. I don’t want to say I’m glad the losses happened but I don’t think we would be where we are today had they not.”
Taylor Williams missed the first two months of the Grizzlies season with a knee injury but she is now back in the starting lineup.
Jessica Zweifel, sidelined with a cut hand, has received the okay to return but Lindsay Porter is out for the season with a separated shoulder.
“Early in the season we had a lot of injuries and adversity to overcome but we’re in a new situation now,” said Throop. “We were able to make adjustments and we’re comfortable where we are. We take what we have and work with it. Thursday is a big game for us. If we continuing playing as well as we have been on Thursday, then we’ll be good for the state tournament.”