Colorado High School Athletic Association’s Class 1A Elite 8 this weekend in Loveland/Greeley
by David J. Santistevan Jr.
LA JUNTA — For the sixth time since the 2008-2009 season, the #2 ranked Kim/Branson Lady Mustangs (19-3), have won a regional Colorado Class 1A Girls Basketball crown.
After beating the Sangre de Cristo Lady Thunderbirds (20-4) by a score of 47-25 last Saturday afternoon in La Junta, they will march on to the CHSAA Class 1A Elite 8 this weekend in Loveland and Greeley.
Behind the “Tooooo Sweeeeet” play of senior guard,#3 Joni Brown and senior forward #12 Ashley Yergert, the Lady Mustangs played tough defense and their brand of smart basketball to advance in front of a large crowd of Kim/Branson faithful fans.
Brown, who averages 15.3 points per game, scored a game high 12-points while making some clutch free-throws, helping her team to the regional title.
Yergert hit on some key three-pointers on her way to 11-points. The Lady Mustang “D” was pretty darn good, holding Sangre de Cristo’s high powered offense who averaged 56 points per game and 40% shooting from the field to just eight first half points and to a season low 21 percent shooting for the game.
Brown got things started, hitting on a three in the opening minutes of the regional championship game. After the score was tied at three, Kim/Branson went on a 7-2 run to end the first quarter with a 10-5 lead.
Yergert hit on a jumper to spearhead a 10-0 run to start the second period. The Lady Mustangs held Sangre de Cristo to no field goals in the second quarter. The Lady T-Birds’ only points in the quarter came from the charity strip and Kim/Branson took a 20-8 advantage into the locker room.
The Lady Mustang “D” held Sangre’s two top scorers to under 10 points. In the two contests between these two historically top teams in Class 1A hoops, Kim/Branson held Sangre to a total of 45 points and 20% shooting. Kim/Branson had won the first contest 37-20 back in January.
The second half was much more competitive but, in the fourth quarter the Kim/Branson “D” held the Lady Thunderbirds to just one field goal on the way to a 22 point win.
Freshman Sidney Goode added five points, junior Tori Goode chipped in with seven, and freshman A.J. Windord and senior Zariah Mason each had four points.
Kim/Branson will now take on the #7 Heritage Christian Lady Eagles (18-5) from Fort Collins.
The Lady Eagles beat Arickaree/Woodlin (16-7) 48-35 to advance to the Class 1A Girls Hoops Elite 8. The Lady Eagles are averaging 45.6 points per game, shoot 36% from the field, and average 9.9 assists per game with 28.0 rebounds per contest.
Senior Kennedy Hughes leads the Lady Eagles, averaging 16.5 points per game and grabbing 6.2 rebounds per game. Junior Sarah Collins averages 11.9 points per game, and sophomore Emma Johnson almost averages a double-double with 10.7 points and 9.4 boards per game.
The Lady Eagles have lost to Briggsdale (20-3) who made it to the Elite 8 this year. They lost to Highland (18-5) who lost in the regional final and to Resurrection Christian (17-6).
For the Lady Mustangs, Brown, the senior leader, this year averages a state high 4.1 steals per game and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 40%. Yerger, the other Lady Mustang senior leader, had 167 rebounds, 80 assists, and 74 steals this season. Kim/Branson is shooting 60% from the free-throw line, and averages 47 points, 26.7 boards, and 14.4 team steals per game.
Kim/Branson has been building a “Pretty Sweeeeeet” girls program since the 2007-2008 season, having won four district championships, eight league championships, five regional championships, with one unbeaten season (2009-2010), and one state championship (2009-2010).
Current Head Coach Justin Winford who took over the program in 2011-2012, has a record of 114-38 coaching the Lady Mustangs to three regional championships, multiple district and league championships, a fourth place finish in 2011-2012, and a third place finish in 2010-2011.
Kim/Branson will tip off the Colorado Class 1A Girls State Basketball Tournament Elite 8 this morning, March 8 at 8:45 am in Loveland at the Budweiser Events Center. The winner will play the winner of the game between #3 Holly (17-6) and. #6 Briggsdale tomorrow, March 9 in Loveland at 4 pm. The third place game in Girls 1A hoops will take place on Saturday afternoon March 10 at 1:30 pm and the Class 1A Girls State Championship will tip off at 4 pm in Loveland later that day.
Sangre de Cristo 05 03 12 05 25
Kim/Branson 10 10 09 18 47