It wasn’t the storybook ending the three seniors from the Monarch girls basketball team had been dreaming about.
In the end, the finish was exactly like the beginning. And even though that meant heartache and more than a few tears for Alexus Johnson, Ashton Davis, and Rebecca Richmond, their unhappy ending did nothing to change the huge sense of accomplishment they took with them as they walked away from their high school careers after their goal of capturing Monarch’s first girls basketball state title ended with a 58-51 loss against Front Range League rival Legacy at the Coors Events Center.
As freshmen, the trio of Johnson, Davis, and Richmond were part of a Monarch club that also reached the state final, suffering a loss against Regis Jesuit.
In between, Monarch enjoyed two other deep playoff runs with that trio leading the way. While their time at Monarch came to an end, all three will continue pursuing their hoops dreams at the Division I level.
“We’re not looking at it like we failed this season,” Davis said. “Of course it’s awful that we lost and couldn’t pull it out, but the fact that I’m not going to play with these girls any more is probably the hardest part of the whole deal.”
It was a tough finale for Johnson and Davis, who combined for only a lone Johnson 3-pointer in the fourth quarter. However, the Navy-bound Richmond almost single-handedly rallied the Coyotes to victory.
After scoring just three points through three quarters, Richmond scored eight in the final frame, recording three baskets off steals to spark Monarch’s late rally. Richmond capped her final steal with a layup that brought the Coyotes within one point with about 28 seconds remaining, but that proved to be the final highlight for Monarch.
“I’m very proud of those three,” Monarch coach Gail Hook said. “My heart hurts right now because we didn’t get that championship trophy for them. I told Rebecca — I’ve coached at the high school level, the collegiate level, the professional level, and with USA basketball, and I’ve never seen a kid work as hard as her. The kid doesn’t take a minute off and I just think she’s going to be a stud at Navy.
“She has this will to win that you can’t coach, and I think she showed that. Ashton Davis has been a kid that has made incredible strides every year. And Alexus Johnson is probably one of the most talented kids I’ve ever coached.”
Pat Rooney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org