This year's First Colorado National Bank Basketball Tournament was an interesting event for the four Delta County high school teams involved in the two-day tournament. On the girls' side of the tournament there was not a single team returning a squad which had more than a handful of players who saw considerable playing time last season.
Cedaredge, one of this year's FCNB title game teams, had six players on last year's team with Courtney Freeman, Jade McGovern and Grace Andrews seeing the most playing time. Addison Schwarz was a fourth player who picked up more playing time as the season progressed but was not a starter.
Freshman Makayla Kehmeier began playing more for the Bruins as her skills made it obvious she would be a strong player and wound up playing in 11 games.
Clarity Call and Dalia Alejandre were not listed in last year's statistical categories and Camie Baldozier played in one game as listed in varsity game results last season.
Freeman, a starter as a sophomore, is this year's top performer with the most experience (22 games last season). She leads this year's starting roster as the top scorer from a year ago with seven points a game in her sophomore season.
What the Bruins do have is the mindset of what it takes to be a winner. Hustle, desire, skill and armed with a defensive attitude taking a back seat to no one, the Bruins can disrupt the offensive flow of any team they face.
The Bruins began their title chase in this year's FCNB Classic with a solid 50-32 win over Hotchkiss on Friday, Dec. 15. A scare in the title game produced an overtime period in which the Bruins outscored Delta 10-6 for a 47-43 win.
The Bruins used the scoring of McGovern (six points) and Alejandre (four points) to take a 13-5 lead after one quarter against Hotchkiss.
Cedaredge's defense limited the Bulldogs to another five points in the second quarter while its offense tacked on 10 more points to lead 23-10 at halftime.
Freeman was the catalyst for Cedaredge in a third-quarter run which netted 19 points. Freeman accounted for all eight of her game points in the third frame with Kehmeier adding five in the scoring run. Hotchkiss sophomore Shay Glaser had four of Hotchkiss' eight points in the quarter.
A slow fourth quarter produced eight points for the Bruins with Kehmeier hitting a pair of three-pointers and a common field goal to account for all of Cedaredge's scoring in the frame.
Hotchkiss outscored the Bruins by six with Glaser's four points leading the way in a 14-point spurt for the Bulldogs.
Glaser finished with 13 counters to lead Hotchkiss with Carson Collins contributing nine points. Kehmeier's 16 points led the Bruins attack while McGovern's 10 points was next to go with Freeman's eight points.
In the title game against Delta, the Bruins found themselves in a whirlwind as the Panthers raced to a 13-4 lead after one period. The Panthers' offense was slowed down a bit in the second quarter but still managed to add points to their lead in a 9-6 advantage and a 22-10 lead at halftime.
The hand-check rule found its way into the game in second period play as the Bruins shot seven free throws and Delta had six shots from the charity stripe.
The Bruins turned things around in the second half and began chipping away at Delta's lead with a 15-10 advantage in the third quarter. Kehmeier's six points and another four from Schwarz helped spark Cedaredge's run. The Panthers countered with four points each from Missa Webb and Aubrey Jones in the frame.
Cedaredge got four points each from Kehmeier and Freeman in the fourth quarter sparking a 12-5 run which earned a 37-37 tie for the Bruins to force overtime. As the fourth quarter ended, Delta was whistled for a technical foul.
The overtime period began with Freeman knocking down both free throws with the Bruins getting the ball back at mid-court to begin play. A quick basket from Freeman gave the Bruins a four-point lead (41-37).
A three-point shot by Sara Geddes brought the Panthers to within one (41-40) and a Keeley Porter basket put Delta back in front (42-40).
After that, the whistles blew and free throw shots were taken. In all, Cedaredge shot 14 free throws in the four-minute overtime period and Delta had opportunities for just three tries from the line. A 10-6 edge for the Bruins salvaged the FCNB championship title with a 47-43 decision.
Cedaredge, with the win, picked up its seventh win since the tournament began in 1994 under the heading of Bank of the West Basketball Tournament.
Kehmeier, Freeman and Schwarz shared top scoring honors for the Bruins with 10 points each in the game.
Freeman's play in the tournament earned her this year's FCNB MVP honors.
Delta's Jones was the game's leading scorer with 11 points, including five of seven on free throws in the second half.Geddes and Jenna Sutliff were next high for the Panthers with eight and seven points respectively.