BROOMFIELD — Broomfield coach Mike Croell released what can only be described as a barbaric yelp after the buzzer went off on Thursday night in the Eagle Gym.
Sure, people understood that his Eagles were good and capable of making some noise among the Class 5A ranks.
But a signature win over coaching legend Caryn Jarocki and her Highlands Ranch Falcons, winners of seven big school titles during her tenure, would be that signature win for Croell and his Eagles.
“I always say that if you can knock off one of the premier teams in the state and granted we had them at home and it is nice to protect the home court,” Croell said. “It’s huge, but we can certainly get better.”
The fourth-ranked Eagles in the latest Associated Press media poll made the No. 3 Falcons pay for their 22 turnovers and off-shooting night with a 59-51 non-league win to run their record to 7-2 as they get set to embark on Front Range League play next week.
Highlands Ranch, whose only two losses came out-of-state at the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix last month, drops to 10-3.
“That was big and I’m glad we beat them, but now we have the rest of the season to look forward to,” said junior Brenna Chase, who scored a team-high 18 points on the eve of her 17th birthday. “We need to keep doing what we are doing and getting some wins.”
If the Eagles play like that — attacking the boards, getting their hands in the passing lanes and creating turnovers as well as hitting timely shots in close games — they will be right in the mix late in the season.
First on the board, Broomfield set the tone right from the tip that it was going to control the glass against the much bigger and more physical Falcons. They were a plus-six in the first quarter alone.
“With the range of our shooters, it forces them to come out and get you,” Croell said. “And that opens up some rebounding possibilities. We had some girls find that little bit that they had left and they got some huge rebounds for us.”
The Eagles forced nine first quarter turnovers against the Falcons, which had Jarocki stewing on her bench, but the Eagles didn’t do much to convert on the offensive end much of the first half and in fact trailed after two quarters 23-22.
“I know their defense has a lot to do with it, but boy did we miss some lay-ups,” said Croell, who was given a technical foul in the fourth quarter. “Oh man, did we miss some bunnies and some putbacks that as a coach you are just pulling your hair out.”
The technical foul came with 3 minutes, 4 seconds to play and Broomfield was up 50-41. Highlands Ranch’s Symone Starks hit both free throws, then the Falcons got a steal and went to the line. After freshman Leilah Vigil missed the second free throw, the Falcons corralled the rebound, got it back to Vigil, who laid it in for what was essentially a five-point trip and the lead was cut to 50-46.
But the Eagles didn’t panic and in fact answered with back-to-back baskets from Callie Kaiser (12 total points) and Maddie Kern, who scored seven of her 10 points in the fourth quarter. Nicole Lehrer also had 10 points.
“It was great, our girls were getting offensive rebounds and looking out and everybody was hitting shots,” said Chase, who hit a big 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter. “Everybody was working really hard.”
Highlands Ranch was led by the freshman Vigil, who finished with 21 points off the bench. Starks added 15 points in the losing effort.
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Broomfield 59, Highlands Ranch 51
At Broomfield HS
HIGHLANDS RANCH (10-3)
Courtney Humbarger 0 0-0 0, Logan Opheim 2 2-2 6, Tommi Olson 2 0-05, Blaire Braxton 1 0-2 2, Jordan Sundlof 0 0-0 0, Symone Starks 6 2-2 15, Brianne Stiers 0 0-0 0, Kim Childress 0 2-4 2, Leilah Vigil 8 5-8 21. Totals 19 11-18 51.
Callie Kaiser 5 2-2 12, Fallyn Reed 1 0-0 2, Maddie Kern 4 0-1 10, Nicole Lehrer 5 0-1 10, Brenna Chase 5 4-6 18, Brenna Fankell 2 2-2 6, Delaynie Byrne 0 1-2 1. Totals 22 9-14 59.
Score by quarters:
Highlands Ranch 10 13 11 17 — 51
Broomfield 14 8 16 21 — 59
3-point field goals — Highlands Ranch (2): Olson, Starks; Broomfield (6): Chase 4, Kern 2. Total fouls — Highlands Ranch 19; Broomfield 16. Fouled out — Starks. Technical foul — Broomfield coach Mike Croell.