DENVER — As Montrose crept closer and the Broomfield girls basketball team watched its momentum get completely wrested away, Eagles head coach Mike Croell took a timeout to try and calm the storm.
Croell didn’t need to deliver a fire-and-brimstone sermon, and he certainly didn’t need to draw up some new adjustment in order to get the Eagles back on track. Croell simply reminded his club that defense has always been the catalyst for the program’s remarkable history of success, and that defense is what would punch the Eagles’ ticket for a return trip to the Final Four.
The Eagles heeded their coach’s advice down the stretch on Saturday, stifling Montrose when it mattered most to post a 51-41 win in a Class 4A quarterfinal showdown at the Denver Coliseum. Broomfield, which had its run of five consecutive 4A state titles end in the quarterfinals last year, will face Pueblo South in the state semifinals Thursday at the University of Colorado’s Coors Event Center.
“(Croell) said to hunker down and play some good man-to-man defense,” Broomfield junior guard Bri Wilber said. “Our zone presses weren’t really working. Our steals are what gives us our points most of the time, so it was great to play defense like that.”
Broomfield (25-1) took control early by scoring the game’s first 10 points and never trailed, though the Eagles nonetheless were forced to weather several comeback attempts by the scrappy Indians.
The Eagles led 27-18 at halftime but saw their lead trimmed to five points with 4 minutes, 45 seconds left in the third quarter. Broomfield responded with a 10-4 run that re-established an 11-point edge with 7 minutes left in the game.
Montrose, though, put together one last run, using an 8-0 surge to draw within three points with 5:03 to play. That’s when Croell took his well-timed timeout and afterward it was all Broomfield, as sophomore Callie Kaiser scored six points during a 10-1 Eagles run that put the game away. Montrose was held without a field goal during that stretch until a late jumper when the Eagles’ victory was already secured.
“We played good man-to-man and we got some steals off it,” Kaiser said. “It feels good to be back here.”
It was a typically balanced offensive attack for Broomfield, which featured five players that scored at least seven points. Kaiser led the way with 13 points, followed by Wilber with nine. Broomfield stayed cool at the free-throw line down the stretch, avoiding Montrose’s upset bid by knocking down 10 of 11 free throws in the final frame.
Five different players contributed to that performance, led by Kaiser’s 4-for-4 mark.
“We like to think we’re pretty battle-tested,” Croell said. “We have a decent 4A league, and most of our non-league (games) with the exception of one were against 5A’s, and most of those 5A’s were either No. 1 seeds or No. 2 seeds. We did a good job of finding good competition.
“We got to watch (Pueblo South) a little bit against Mesa Ridge. Pueblo South is the real deal and they’re hungry. We’ll have a good game with them.”
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Broomfield 51, Montrose 41
At the Denver Coliseum
Rowan 2 0-0 4, Ka. Keltz 4 0-0 12, Skoe 2 3-4 7, Ammermann 1 2-4 4, Hill 2 0-0 4, Brooks 1 7-9 10, Thorp 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 12-17 41.
Wilber 3 1-2 9, Croell 1 5-7 7, Lehrer 1 2-2 5, Hull 2 3-4 7, Kaiser 4 5-6 13, Chase 3 0-0 7, Albrecht 0 0-0 0, Stovall 0 0-0 0, Rohrbaugh 1 1-1 3, Fankell 0 0-2 0. Totals 15 17-24 51.
Score by quarters:
Montrose 9 9 12 11 — 41
Broomfield 18 9 10 14 — 51
3-point field goals — Montrose (5): Keltz 4, Brooks; Broomfield (4): Wilber 2, Lehrer, Chase. Total fouls — Montrose 18, Broomfield 14. Fouled out — Wilber.