LITTLETON — Columbine girls basketball coach Greg Bolding Jr. turned a loss into a big win Wednesday, Dec. 15.
Shortly after the No. 1-ranked Valor Christian took a 42-20 victory over the No. 9 Rebels, Bolding got on one knee to propose to girlfriend and Columbine’s L3 coach Kylie Morris. The carefully orchestrated marriage proposal that included players for Columbine and Valor giving roses to Morris ended with a “yes.”
“It was important to do it in front of family,” Bolding said of his wedding proposal. “It worked out perfect.”
While Bolding got the win after Morris said yes under the spotlight at center court, it was the Eagles (4-1 record) that handed Columbine (4-1) its first loss of the season. The Rebels were coming off a big 3-0 run to win the Fairview Tournament last week. It included a victory over another Class 5A Jeffco rival in Ralston Valley.
The 22-point loss for the Rebels against conference foe Valor was a bit of a reality check.
“It shows us what we need to work on for the coaches to the players,” Bolding said. “I was proud of us buying in defensively. It’s great we get to play them twice.”
Columbine hosts Valor again in league play in about five weeks on Jan. 21.
“I think sometimes especially earlier we are still trying to figure things out,” Valor coach Jessika Caldwell said after the Eagles’ lowest scoring output of the season. “You just have to win and sometimes that’s winning ugly. I’m really proud of our defensive effort.”
Neither team shot the ball well. Valor finished 1-for-18 from 3-point range, but also held Columbine to single-digit points in every quarter. The Rebels scored just a single point in the second quarter that resulted in Valor holding a 20-5 lead at halftime.
Columbine senior Jessica Bollwahn was the lone Rebel to get into double-digit points finishing with 11. Columbine was held to just seven made field goals on the night.
“We stressed a lot of defense this week. I felt like we really prepared defensively,” Bolding said. “Offensively we just couldn’t get into a rhythm. Shots just weren’t falling for us.”
Valor senior Raegan Beers was outscoring Columbine single-handedly for the majority of the night. The Oregon State University signee finished with 19 points to hit right on her scoring average on the season so far.
“I think Raegan is such a unique player,” Caldwell said of her senior last missed all of her junior season after knee surgery to repair a torn ACL. “She is such a great teammate. She knows what she has to do for her team to be successful.”
Despite not having Beers on the court last season, the Eagles went 17-0 in claiming the 5A state championship.
“It is so great,” Beers said of being back contributing. “It’s the best feeling to be back out here with Coach Jess and my teammates again. It’s a thrill.”
Beers ran a little point-center at times against Columbine, showing her multiple skills besides dominating the paint with her 6-foot-3 frame. With her missing all of the last season there are only a few teammates that have played much with Beers.
“We have lots of young ones who are doing a great job of stepping up,” Beers said of the young Eagles that included freshman Quinn VanSickle coming off the bench to score 8 points Wednesday. “They are learning how to play with me and I’m learning to play with them. Most of them I haven’t played with them before.”
Valor and Columbine will now pack their bags as both teams head to the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix. The national tournament runs Dec. 17-21.
“We’ll play four games and I know we are in a tough bracket,” Caldwell said of the Nike tournament. “We’ve got some good competition coming our way.”
It won’t be until mid-January until the 5A Jeffco League play begins for Valor and Columbine.
“Our ultimate goal is state,” Beers said. “We aren’t at our best right now because we are young and learning. I just want to see growth throughout the season.”
Dennis Pleuss is the Sports Information Director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.