BROOMFIELD — Hosting a second round Class 5A playoff game, the fourth-seeded Legacy Lightning girls basketball team had visiting Castle View right where it wanted them.
With the clock having ticked down to under 3 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and Courtney Smith having just dropped in another one of her buckets to push the lead to double-digits, it seemed a sure bet that LHS was going to continue on to the round of 16.
Then disaster struck. No. 5-seed Castle View went on a frenetic run, hitting clutch jumpers and free throws on the offensive end and then applying immediate pressure in the Legacy backcourt, forcing several costly mistakes. The spurt was finally capitalized by a runner from the Sabercats’ Mikayla Gonzales, which tied the game with 5 seconds left and drew a foul in the process, giving her a chance to steal the win at the free throw line.
And though the subsequent toss from the charity stripe was off and the game went into overtime, the damage had already been done. CVHS rode the momentum of its late surge throughout the extra session, ultimately walking away with a 58-52 win to advance in the Alice Barron Region.
“We were ahead and we just let it slip through our fingers,” said Legacy senior Courtney Smith, who led all scorers with 28. “And then I thought in overtime we were ahead and we let it slip away again. We just needed to be stronger down the stretch.”
“We went and watched them play Prairie View and saw some film on them,” Legacy head coach Craig Van Patten said. “I start a couple sophomore guards and we knew (their guard play) was going to be a factor coming into the game. I thought the first 28 minutes we controlled the tempo and we had the game. It was really just the last four minutes. We panicked, they made plays and we didn’t.”
After utilizing Smith and fellow post Bree Paulson, who had 15 points on the night, to build the early lead Legacy was forced to alter its attack when Castle View switched to a zone in the second half. The change in defense, coupled with a press the ‘Cats implemented late, put the game in the hands of each team’s guards. And while Legacy’s young backcourt was ill-equipped to handle the increased workload, Castle View’s excelled.
Junior point Shaina Smidt, who entered the game averaging under 6 points per contest, went off for 20, including 14 after intermission. Another junior, Elle Gillen, also had a huge game, scoring 12 points and connecting on three jumpers from downtown.
Following the ‘Cats 8-0 run late in the fourth, Smith was able to increase the lead back to 45-41 on a drive with just over 30 seconds remaining. But a layup in traffic from Gillen with 12 ticks left made it a one-possession game again. Smith then missed the front end of a one-and-one situation at the foul line, allowing Castle View to come down court and hit the tying shot to force OT.
Smith was able to give Legacy the lead in overtime on a turnaround in the lane with 2:15 left, putting her squad up 48-47. But Smidt responded with a huge three-pointer seconds later, to push Castle View ahead for good. The ‘Cats were then able to salt the game away by hitting eight of their final 10 shots from the foul line.
While the loss was certainly a disappointing way for Smith to end her time at Legacy, she certainly made the most of her run, which included a state title as a freshman. The senior also still has much basketball ahead of her, as she will be taking her talents to Greeley next year to play for Northern Colorado.
“I’m really excited to play Northern Colorado next year,” she said. “There are really good coaches and teammates there, and they are doing really well in the Big Sky this year so I’m just excited to contribute to that.”
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Castle View 58, Legacy 52
At Legacy HS
CASTLE VIEW (13-12)
Savannah Heebner 2 0-6 4, Mikayla Gonzales 3 3-5 9, Shaina Smidt 6 6-6 20, Jordan Wyatt 1 3-4 6, Elle Gillen 4 1-2 12, Madison Gaytan 1 0-0 3, Brandi Bain 1 1-2 3, Michaela Trainer 0 1-2 1. Totals 18 15-27.
Vanessa Romo 1 0-1 3, Bree Paulson 4 7-10 15, Courtney Smith 11 6-8 28, Maddie Gallegos 0 2-5 2, Katelyn Pedersen 0 4-4 4. Totals 16 18-25 52.
Score by quarters:
Castle View 6 15 9 15 13 — 58
Legacy 10 20 7 8 7 — 52
3-point field goals — Castle View (7): Smidt 2, Wyatt, Gillen 3, Gaytan; Legacy (1): Romo. Total fouls — Castle View 22; Legacy 18.