DENVER — The Broomfield girls basketball team in its run through Class 5A the past two seasons has gotten their chance to know Ralston Valley quite well.
It's a team they schedule purposefully in the season, knowing a postseason matchup could be in store annually.
Well, it was this year, and apparently Ralston Valley learned a few things about the Eagles, too. In their Class 5A Great 8 matchup at the Denver Coliseum on Friday night, the Mustangs shot, pressed and stole their way to a 74-58 victory to gain entrance to the Final Four for the first time by beating the Eagles for the first time ever, as well.
A 23-2 third quarter surge for the Mustangs, and 20 turnovers proved too much for Broomfield to rally from, though the Eagles went out kicking as hard as they could — as hard as a team trying to defend its state title should.
"It's hard to beat a team twice, and that team is such a good team you can't let them open that kind of lead on you," said senior Brenna Chase, who scored 15 of her 27 points in the fourth quarter, helping BHS cut it to 65-54 at one point before running out of gas. "We're not a team to give up, it doesn't matter what the situation and I love the heart that we play with. I'm proud to be part of that.
"We were a step slow all night, and we got them last time but they got us this time."
Ralston Valley, amazingly, did so without a single point from its bench. Its five starters — Ashley Van Sickle, Mikela Shaklee, Chloe Gillach, Hannah Weber and Sarah Bevington — were given by head coach Jeff Gomer free reign to seize control of the contest themselves, and they did just that.
There were six ties and eight lead changes in the first half, but none of those came after Ralston Valley took a 19-17 lead midway through the second quarter. The Mustangs went on a 9-0 run and Ashley Van Sickle later buried two corner 3-pointers late in the half to preserve the RVHS lead at 30-25 entering the break.
Broomfield kept it within 33-30 with 6 minutes, 40 seconds to go in the third quarter before Ralston Valley went on a back-breaking run. Broomfield had six turnovers in the quarter, and the Mustangs shot 11-for-16 in the frame.
Beyond the numbers, they were so hot that even transition jump shots were falling through the net with ease. The result was a 56-32 lead after three.
"We just didn't give the ball a lot of energy (Friday), and we executed well in some sets but not others and that prevented a fluid offense," said head coach Derek Seifried, whose team finished up 23-3 in his first year at the helm.
Chase, who has always seemed to play great from a scoring standpoint against the Mustangs, hit five straight shots in the fourth quarter to make things interesting, and a couple of and-1's from Taylor Gilmore and Delaynie Byrne got the Eagles riled up.
The Mustangs got the rebounds when they needed them, eating up the clock to stifle the rally.
Ralston Valley had 12 offensive rebounds in the second half, a huge contribution to the biggest upset of the night.
"Sometimes our heads were below the rim when we knew there were going to be some long rebounds, and other times we also just got out-pursued for the ball," Seifried said. "Turnovers and defensive rebounding were what this game boiled down to.
"We showed a lot of growth and stayed real consistent all season. We just had a bad night in a one-and-done situation."
Class 5A state tournament semifinal
Ralston Valley 74, Broomfield 58
At Denver Coliseum
RALSTON VALLEY (23-3)
Ashley Van Sickle 8 2-2 22, Samantha Van Sickle 0 0-0 0, Michaela Shaklee 5 2-2 13, Abbey Wright 0 0-0 0, Chloe Gillach 3 3-6 10, Shelby Nichols 0 0-0 0, Hannah Weber 5 3-5 16, Alessia Capley 0 0-0 0, Sarah Bevington 3 7-10 13. Totals 24 15-25 74.
Abby Croell 1 0-0 2, Steph Peterson 1 0-0 2, Juliet Steinhauer 0 0-0 0, Olivia MacLean 0 0-0 0, Maddie Kern 4 0-0 10, Brenna Chase 9 6-6 27, Jenna Casasanta 0 0-0 0, Brenna Fankell 1 4-4 6, Delaynie Byrne 4 0-1 8, Madison Wagner 0 0-0 0, Abby Major 0 0-0 0, Taylor Gilmore 1 1-1 3. Totals 21 11-12 58.
Score by quarters:Ralston Valley 12 18 26 18 — 74
Broomfield 11 14 7 26 — 58
3-point field goals — Ralston Valley (9): A. Van Sickle 4, Weber 3, Shaklee, Gillach; Broomfield (5): Chase 3, Kern 2. Total fouls — Ralston Valley 11, Broomfield 22. Fouled out — Croell, Chase.