Rock Canyon accomplished its goal of a fast start in its Feb. 28 Class 5A second-round girls state playoff game against Arapahoe.
Kendall Koslosky took a pass from Erin McClarie and scored four seconds into the game and the Jaguars never looked back in notching a 60-44 win.
“We talked about getting a quick start and not ever having to play from behind,” said Rock Canyon coach Becky Mudd. “We wanted to get out early. That was a key for us.”
Rock Canyon grabbed a 10-0 lead, before the cold-shooting Warriors finally scored when Mikaela Moore made the second of two free throws with 1:22 to play in the first quarter.
Arapahoe missed on its first 11 shots. Jennah Knafelc finally hit a 3-point shot with 17 seconds remaining in the opening quarter for the visitors’ first field goal of the game.
“That’s how we need to start games, by dominating in the beginning,” advocated Rock Canyon senior Morgan Roos. “We went and set a tone from the beginning that `you are in our house.’”
Arapahoe, which downed Liberty 50-31 in the first round, played better in the second half, but Rock Canyon pushed its lead to 21 points at a couple points during the half.
The Warriors, who finished the game shooting 34 percent from the floor, could pull no closer than 13 points with 4:23 left in the game.
“We just didn’t shoot well in the first half,” said Arapahoe coach Jerry Knafelc. “We played reasonably good defense most of the time. We played them even in the second half. … We spotted them too much. They are a very good team, very talented. Hats off to them, they did what they needed to do to win.’’
Rock Canyon (17-7) got contributions from a variety of players.
Senior Lexy Thorderson scored from inside and outside. She paced the Jaguars with 16 points that included four 3-pointers.
“That’s great,” explained Mudd. “Inside, outside when you have both of those working it’s tough to stop.”
Roos scored 14 points and was credited with 14 rebounds and five blocked shots.
“She did well,” said Mudd. “She kept good composure. They were physical and they were banging with her but she kept her head, kept working in there and got a lot of good put backs.”
Koslosky finished with 11 points, Delaney Sullivan had seven, Kendall Smith six and McClarie six points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
“We got threes from Erin McClarie, some good shots from Delaney Sullivan and then Kendall Koslosky a few times just drove to the basket and made some layups,” said Mudd. “It was nice to spread it around.”
Rock Canyon traveled to Cherry Creek to face the Bruins (21-3) in a Sweet 16 game on March 4 that took place after Colorado Community Media’s deadline.
Knafelc and Moore each scored 12 points for Arapahoe in the Warriors’ finale. The Warriors, which had to deal with the Dec. 13 shooting at the school, concluded their season with a 15-10 record.
“I have so much respect for our players and their ability to try to put that behind them and focus on basketball,” said Jerry Knafelc. “They did a great job and I admire them for their work ethic and focus.”