Hoping to find themselves in the Great 8 of the 2019 5A CHSAA Girls Basketball State Tournament for the fourth consecutive year, Horizon ladies basketball (21-4) accomplished this impressive feat with a 58-40 win over No. 10 seed Ralston Valley (18-7) Feb. 26.
In front of a packed-out, energetic Lady Eagles’ crowd, senior interior presence Samantha Deem jump-started her team, scoring seven of the group’s first nine points to go-ahead four with 3:15 remaining in the first. Following her lead, five points and scrappy defensive pressure on the perimeter from junior Olivia Waufle helped increase the Horizon lead to 16-9 after one.
“She’s our leader, she’s our rock,” Horizon coach Dan Doehler said postgame of Deem. “I know what I’m going to get from her every night. The senior class with her leadership has been just a phenomenal group to work with. Four years in a row going to the Great 8, we’re excited right now.”
In a frustrating night for RV, their best quarter did come in the second led by six points apiece from sophomores Brooklyn Seymour and Sydney Bevington. Despite scoring a night-high 13 points in the frame, Horizon held off the Lady Mustangs with a 14-point quarter of their own, taking an 8-point halftime lead.
Then when Ralston Valley thought things couldn’t get worse, Horizon senior guard Alyssa Jimenez got going. After a moderately quiet first half for the captain, 10 third-quarter points and leading the offense to extreme success, the lead swelled to 15.
“She has unfinished business. She’s been testing for this basketball team since her freshman year,” Doehler said. “She denies everybody for me (defensively), she rebounds, she’s on the top of the press for me, my point guard and my floor general. We are not in this position without Aly Jimenez.”
When things looked dead in the water for RV, they did make one final run in the fourth — going on a 5-0 run over the first minute and 40 seconds of the quarter. However, the defense of Horizon clamped down the rest of the way, allowing just four points.
“This is what Horizon is built on, we’re built on banners and we have so much pride and tradition in this program to not get to the Great 8 in this program is unacceptable.
“We are playing Regis (Jesuit) for the third straight year, and with this group I have right now, they want it. Look for the upset,” Doehler said.
Stuffing the stat sheet as they have all season, Jimenez and Deem led the Lady Hawks’ with 18 and 17 points each. Not only leading in scoring, but both also recorded double-digit rebounds with 11 and 13 respectively. Following on the boards, seniors Arielle Wisne and Caleese Ramirez made their presence known as well with eight and six rebounds each.
Unfortunately, March 1 against 2nd-seeded Regis Jesuit (23-3), the Raiders moved on to the Final 4 with their 68-37 win over the Lady Hawks.
A slow start in which Horizon was outscored 19-3 in the first quarter put the ladies too far back to overcome. With one player scoring in double-digits (Deem), the offensive and defensive firepower of Regis proved too much as senior sophomore Avery Vansickle and senior dunking sensation Francesca Belibi recorded 25 and 23 points apiece.
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