BROOMFIELD — The question now may be: How good can this Broomfield girls team be?
Sure, coach Mike Croell has built something special and has won his fair share of games against all levels of quality opponents. But Saturday afternoon’s 65-47 whipping ThunderRidge, ranked third in the latest CHSAANow.com 5A poll, will have some of the state’s elite asking the question.
“That is one of the better high school teams that I have seen, and I think it’s because of how well they play together and how athletic they are at all their spots,” said first-year ThunderRidge coach Paula Krueger, who spent nine seasons as the head coach at the Colorado School of Mines. “You don’t find a team that can just keep coming at you and coming at you.
“Coach (Croell) has done a fantastic job in all the years I have been out here and his kids play their butts off for him and each other. To be as good as they have for as long as they have, I think that is a goal of every program.”
High praise indeed from a coach who knows what she is talking about.
Broomfield, which already had a game under its belt after the holiday break, jumped on the Grizzlies early. After trading baskets early on, the Eagles (8-0) went on a 16-3 run behind Callie Kaiser and Co. that had them up 24-9 after the first 8 minutes.
The Eagles forced 10 ThunderRidge turnovers in the first quarter and grabbed 10 offensive rebounds, and that formula was more than enough to have Krueger stomping mad on her bench.
“That’s what I told the girls ‘You came out in the first half and you weren’t afraid. You didn’t play tight and you came out and just took it to them,'” said Croell, whose team is still ranked No. 1 in the CHSAANow.com Class 4A poll. “As good as it was, we still left a lot of points out there. We were getting up and down the floor, we were rebounding, we were shooting well … it was good stuff.”
Kaiser was the beneficiary of a lot of those fast break points and the junior had 19 of her game-high 24 points in the first half. But as Krueger said, the waves kept coming and the opportunistic Eagles got balanced first half scoring from a multitude of players, including Bri Wilber, Meghan Stovall, Nicole Lehrer, Cherokee Rohrbaugh, Stacie Hull and Brenna Chase — who finished with 12 points.
“It was really important to jump on them, because we knew they were going to come out strong,” Kaiser said. “It was a good feeling to look up at the scoreboard and know that we were beating a really good team like that.”
The Grizzlies trimmed the lead to 45-33 in the third quarter behind the hot shooting of sophomore guard Taylor Rusk, who knocked down five 3-pointers and led her team with 17 points. But ThunderRidge could never get the lead down to single digits and was forced to send the Eagles to the line, where they made 26 of 35 on the afternoon.
“You could see youth a little bit,” Krueger said. “I don’t think we were ready for that kind of intensity right out of the chute. We needed to see that to get better. You never want to lose games, but if there is a game you want to lose, you want to lose to what I consider one of the best teams in the state.”
The Eagles have finished the non-league portion of their schedule and will open up Northern League play on Tuesday at home against Mountain View. But rest assured Croell did not take this game lightly, especially with a chance to get better against a quality 5A team.
“When you are a 4A school, any time you play a 5A school, it’s a big deal,” he said. “It gets your attention.”
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Broomfield 65, ThunderRidge 47
At Broomfield HS
Madison Ward 1 3-4 6, Taylor Rusk 6 0-0 17, Brittany Birdsey 0 0-0 0, Cici Wade 1 0-1 2, Jaz’Myne Snipes 1 0-1 2, Jessica Lohrenz 0 2-2 2, Alyssia Martinez 2 1-1 6, Rienne Ray 0 0-0 0, Dallas Petties 0 0-0 0, Alexandra Kaminsky 0 0-0 0, Jessica Zweifel 0 0-0 0, Taylor Reiner 5 2-2 12. Totals 16 8-11 47.
Callie Kaiser 8 7-10 24, Bri Wilber 1 8-10 10, Meghan Stovall 0 2-2 2, Nicole Lehrer 1 1-2 3, Brenna Chase 3 4-5 12, Cherokee Rohrbaugh 1 0-0 2, Brenna Fankell 1 0-2 2, Stacie Hull 3 4-4 10. Totals 18 26-35 65.
Score by quarters:
ThunderRidge 9 12 15 11 — 47
Broomfield 24 17 10 14 — 65
3-point field goals — ThunderRidge (7): Rusk 5, Ward, Martinez; Broomfield (3): Chase 2, Kaiser. Total fouls — ThunderRidge 23, Broomfield 11. Fouled out — Martinez.