Mountain Vista's girls basketball team logged a pioneering win Feb. 8 and coach Mike Willahan hopes the state of Colorado will notice.
The Golden Eagles, ranked ninth at the time in the CHSAANow.com Class 5A poll, handed No. 5 ThunderRidge its first Continental League loss with a 55-52 victory in an encounter in the Eagles Nest gym.
“It was the first time in school history that we've beaten ThunderRidge in girls basketball,” said Willahan. “That was big for the girls. We had that in our minds going in. Right now, we're believing we can win every game and any game. That's where our mindset is. We're a good basketball team.
“We've kind of been overlooked and a little bit disrespected in the state. Hopefully the win over ThunderRidge will open some eyes. … They were ranked in the Top five for a reason. They are a good basketball team. We came in and did what we had to do.”
Sophomore Chelsea Pearson led the Golden Eagles with 15 points and senior Maddy Whetstone added 13, including a trio of 3-point baskets. Molly McCabe, another sophomore, grabbed a team high six rebounds while Whetstone pulled down five.
Mountain Vista did have 24 turnovers, which kept the game close — especially in the fourth quarter. The Golden Eagles led 41-32 heading into the fourth and then short-circuited a late Grizzlies' rally.
“We were up by double figures with three minutes to go, made some mistakes down the stretch but did enough to hang on,” said Willahan. “It was a good, hard-fought game (between) the top two rebounding teams in the conference.
“It was a battle every inch (between) two good defensive teams. I wouldn't say we were good offensively, but that happens when you get two good defensive teams playing.”
Mountain Vista (16-3, 6-1 Continental) is now tied with ThunderRidge (14-5, 6-1) and Rock Canyon (14-4, 6-1) for second place, one game behind league-leading Regis Jesuit (17-2, 7-0) heading into the final four games of the regular season.
The Golden Eagles hosted Castle View Feb. 11 and have games at Chaparral Feb. 14, against Legend Feb. 18 and at Highlands Ranch Feb. 20.
ThunderRidge has a rugged slate of games that started with a Feb. 11 contest against Chaparral. The Grizzlies face Regis Feb. 14, Castle View Feb. 18 and Rock Canyon Feb. 20. Those four teams had compiled a 21-7 record in the Continental League and were 55-19 overall prior to the Feb. 11 games.
Vista boys triumph as well
In a boys' game between the two schools Feb. 7, coach Bob Wood earned his 100 victory as Mountain Vista's coach with a 60-50 win at ThunderRidge.
Senior Jake Pemberton scored a game-high 23 points, added six assists, two steals and had 10 deflections to highlight the triumph for the third-ranked and Continental League-leading Mountain Vista (18-1, 7-0).
Zach Pirog and Elias Tiedgen each had 15 points for ThunderRidge (11-8, 4-3).