BOULDER — You couldn’t have scripted it any better.
A quick start is usually the best thing to down the spirit of an opponent and Broomfield knew it was a must in the familiar setting of the Coors Events Center.
On Thursday against Cherry Creek in the Class 5A girls basketball semifinals, the Eagles punched their ticket to Saturday’s title game in the first three minutes. An 11-0 run turned into a 20-4 bulge and ultimately 71-42 rout of the second-seeded Bruins.
“It was huge, we knew we had to come out strong and fast and we did that,” said senior Callie Kaiser, who scored a game-high 23 points.
Broomfield (25-2) will either face Front Range League foe Monarch or the one team to beat them this year, ThunderRidge, in the championship game on Saturday at 3 p.m.
After having a chance to scout the Bruins last week in the Great 8 at the Denver Coliseum, one thing stood out to Eagles coach Mike Croell and that was just their sheer length. He knew his team would have to be active on the boards and aggressive on defense.
In a first quarter that eventually saw Broomfield take a 24-8 lead, the Eagles executed the game plan to a tee. They out rebounded Cherry Creek 9-6 and forced eight Bruins turnovers.
“We knew that if we could keep it out of being a half-court game that we would be okay,” said Croell, who will coach his final game of his Broomfield career Saturday afternoon. “And you saw, when it did turn into a half-court game, we had no answer for that big No. 40 (Molly Rohrer).”
The fun-and-gun pace the Eagles were playing was leading to easy baskets on the other end. Brenna Chase (12 points), Nicole Lehrer (nine points), Brenna Fankell and Kaiser were getting to the basket and converting with ease. Including Maddie Kern, the Broomfield starting five scored 67 of the Eagles’ 71 points.
“We figured if we could keep the pressure going and turn it into an up-and-down game, that we would be okay,” Croell said. “Luckily we didn’t have to re-invent the wheel, that’s what we do.”
The biggest threat to Cherry Creek’s size for Broomfield was Fankell, who has arguably been the Eagles’ best and most steady player during their playoff run.
Fankell was again huge on Thursday night, especially on the boards. The junior finished with 11 total rebounds, 10 on the offensive end, and poured in 20 points boot.
Her teammates have taken notice.
“She been a huge part of our offense and has stepped up and is playing really well right now,” Kaiser said. “She was huge today. She kept their best player down and played well in the process.”
Rohrer was the lone bright spot for the Bruins. She finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.
Croell’s record now stands at 456-69 and Saturday will mark the ninth time in his career that he has coached in a state title game. He will be in search of championship No. 6, and his first at the 5A level.
“The girls are very excited, but they have been here before,” said Croell, who has been down-playing his final run. “They don’t want it to end like it did last year, they want to seal the deal.”
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Broomfield 71, Cherry Creek 42
At Coors Events Center
CHERRY CREEK (19-8)
Allison Dwinell 0 0-0 0, Hannah Colter 0 0-0 0, Hannah Young, Lauren McMillen 0 2-4 2, Olivia McCann 0 2-2 2, Sydney Mech 3 2-2 8, Brittanee Bivins 2 0-0 4, Cara McNiff 2 0-0 6, Laura Pranger 2 1-2 5, Molly Rohrer 6 3-3 15, Olivia Ayers 0 0-0 0, Xena Land 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 10-13 42.
Abby Croell 0 0-0 0, Callie Kaiser 8 6-7 23, Katie Stirling 1 0-0 2, Fallyn Reed 0 0-0 0, Maddie Kern 1 0-0 3, Nicole Lehrer 4 1-2 9, Brenna Chase 3 6-8 12, Jenna Casasanta 0 0-0 0, Brenna Fankell 6 8-8 20, Delaynie Byrne 1 0-2 2, Taylor Gilmore 0 0-0 0, Linnie Malkin 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 21-27 71.
Score by quarters:
Cherry Creek 8 13 8 13 — 42
Broomfield 24 15 23 9 — 71
3-point field goals — Cherry Creek (2): McNiff 2; Broomfield (2): Kaiser, Kern. Total fouls — Cherry Creek 16; Broomfield 17.