Though Cedaredge High School's girls basketball team stumbled in the semifinal round of last weekend's 3A district playoffs on Friday, the Bruins managed to bounce back to secure a third-place finish in the tournament and advanced to the first round of this year's 3A state tournament.
Cedaredge opened the week with a play-in game win over Roaring Fork 36-29 on Feb. 20 in Cedaredge. In the tournament's semifinal round, held at Central High School Friday and Saturday, the Bruins tripped themselves in a 31-26 loss to the second-seeded Grand Valley Cardinals. Saturday morning's third-place game against Delta (4th seed) was a 45-36 victory.
Bruins 36, Rams 29
Roaring Fork served notice in the opening quarter it would like to play in this year's district tournament and outscored the Bruins 10-5 to start the game.
A nine-point second quarter gave the Rams a 19-11 halftime lead and Cedaredge fans became even more nervous.
Cedaredge reversed the momentum in the second half with 14 points in the third quarter and another 11 in the final period to outscore the Rams by 15 points and win by a 36-29 margin.
The win sent Cedaredge to district playoff quarterfinal action on Friday.
Junior Courtney Freeman dumped in 16 points and hauled down five rebounds to lead the Bruins to victory. Senior Grace Andrews provided seven points in the win with freshman Kammie Kehmeier grabbing five rebounds. Senior Jade McGovern contributed four assists and three steals in the victory.
GV 31, Bruins 26
Friday afternoon's contest against Grand Valley was a slowly moving offensive game with both teams playing good defense causing their opponents to turn the ball over numerous times and miss normally easy shots.
The first half was closely contested with Cedaredge sneaking to a 12-11 lead at the break.
Neither team found a great deal of success on offense following halftime. A slim 9-7 advantage for Grand Valley gave the Cardinals a 20-19 lead with eight minutes left to play.
An 11-7 fourth quarter stretched the Cardinals' final margin of victory to 31-26.
Sophomore Makayla Kehmeier topped Cedaredge's offensive scoring statistics with 12 points and finished the game with six rebounds.
Henderson scored six points for the Bruins and senior Grace Andrews had five rebounds in the win.
Bruins 45, Delta 36
This was the case of a good defense keeping an offense in check. There was enough offense from the Bruins to indicate a year-end scoring slump might be over for Cedaredge in the third place game.
Cedaredge charged to a 16-2 first-quarter lead with Delta mistakes contributing to the scoring differential.
A slow second quarter for both teams led to a 21-8 halftime lead for Cedaredge.
Delta was more motivated on offense in the third quarter and outscored the Bruins 14-10 to trim Cedaredge's lead to 31-22 by quarter's end.
Cedaredge took advantage of more Delta miscues down the stretch and made a 14-9 run to make the final score 45-36.
Delta junior Jenna Sutliff spread 12 points over four quarters to lead the Panthers' offensive effort with senior Aubrey Jones adding nine points.
Freeman was the game's leading scorer with 15 points. Andrews chipped in nine counters with Henderson adding seven points and five rebounds. Kehmeier finished with six points and senior Addison Schwarz pulling down four rebounds.
Cedaredge coach Ryan Hilbig was pleased with his team's finish in lieu of some rough recent games. When asked about moving on in the coming first round of the 3A regionals, with the possibility of not having to face a Delta County team (Delta), Hilbig's response was, "I wouldn't mind playing them again (Delta). It means we might be playing for the state title."
Despite Hilbig's concerns over the Bruins' placement, and a site to play, Cedaredge (18-3) enters this week's first round of the 3A regionals as the number six seed and will host a regional site March 2-3.
Four teams will participate in Cedaredge this Friday and Saturday with the Bruins taking on No. 27 Liberty Common (12-10) and No. 11 Jefferson Academy (16-6) facing No. 22 The Vangard School (14-8).
Friday's winners will play for a berth in the Sweet 16 to be played on Saturday (March 3) with the winner moving on to next week's Great 8 round at Denver University's Hamilton Gymnasium in Denver on March 8. March 8 winners play in the Final Four on March 9 with a state title to be determined on March 10.