Valor girls avenge loss to reach semis

Eagles win 16th straight, top Sand Creek in Great 8

Tom Munds
Valor guard Sara Gibson (14) drives for the hoop against Sandcreek defender Mikayla Reese (1) during the March 8 Class 4A state quarterfinals. The Eagles widened their lead for good in the fourth quarter as they won the Great 8 game, 67-60.

Games against Sand Creek, at least this season, seem to have a major impact on the Valor Christian girls basketball team.

Sand Creek embarrassed the Eagles in a 67-34 defeat Jan. 3, dropping Valor’s record to 7-3. Since, the Eagles, have won 16 straight games.

The 16th win in the streak may have been the sweetest, a 67-60 retaliation victory over the Scorpions in a March 8 Great 8 game at the Denver Coliseum which earned the Eagles their first trip in school history to the Class 4A Final Four.

Valor (23-3) will face undefeated Broomfield (26-0) March 13 in a 5:30 p.m. semifinal contest at the CU Events Center.

“That was the turning point of our season,” said Valor coach Sherryl Klosterman, referencing the Jan. 3 meeting between the two schools. “The difference the second time was we played a more half-court style of defense, a more contain-style rather than our normal aggressive trapping and leaving the backside exposed. We just kind of contained them a little better.”

Valor went into the fourth quarter trailing Sand Creek 45-44, but Caroline Bryan swished a 3-point basket that started a decisive surge that saw the Eagles outscore the Scorpions 23-15 and punch a ticket to Boulder.

“It gave us the momentum that we needed,” said Bryan, who led the Eagles with 22 points. “It picked up the pace of the game and gave us the excitement and cockiness that we needed to go out and finish it off.”

Valor made 18 free throws in the final 5:06 of the game to seal the victory. The Eagles were 28-of-36 at the charity stripe in the second half and hit 33-of-47 free throws in the game.

“Momentum was on our side and we knew if we could just stay aggressive and draw fouls we were going to get them into foul trouble, which we did, and that was key.

“We talked about staying aggressive and playing our game which is pass and cut, ball movement and not trying to score too early. When we play aggressive, we play better. We’re a pretty decent free throw shooting team.”

Bryan, a 5-foot-10 junior on a team with all underclass regulars, was 7-for-10 at the free throw line and was credited with four assists. Kendall Bradbury scored 14 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, while Madison McCoy added 13 points.

Valor now faces a tough semifinal assignment against Broomfield, last season’s 4A runner-up, and a program that won five state titles between 2007 and 2011.

“I feel we are playing real well,” said Klosterman. “The kids are confident. They are not getting rattled when we get behind, they are playing together and the kids on the bench are mentally into the game and throwing out suggestions. It’s just a really good team atmosphere.”

Bryan is eager to confront the challenge of playing Broomfield.

“We’re playing awesome and I could not be more proud of my team,” she said. “It feels incredible to be going to Boulder. It is actually a dream. I could not be more excited.”