For the umpteenth time this season, Cedaredge High School's girls scored narrow victories, this time, in the 3A regional playoffs at Cedaredge High School over the weekend.
The No. 6 Bruins opened play last Friday with a 35-24 decision over No. 27 Liberty Common (12-10). That victory placed Cedaredge in the regional title game against No. 11 Jefferson Academy (17-7) on Saturday. A close game between the two teams ended with host Cedaredge scoring a 38-35 win to earn a berth in next week's 3A quarter final round (Great 8) hosted at Denver University's Hamilton Gym on March 8.
Bruins 35, Eagles 24
The term defense is synonymous with Cedaredge in girls basketball. The Bruins used their defense to work past Liberty Common's Eagles in the first round of the 2018 Class 3A regional playoffs.
As a No. 6 seed, and sporting an 18-3 record, the Bruins hosted one of eight regional sites, where the winner of each regional advances to the Great 8 (quarterfinals) at Denver University (Hamilton Gym) on March 8.
Neither team was highly motivated on offense in the first quarter. Cedaredge managed to sneak its way to the lead on a 6-5 finish to the first quarter.
Another sluggish period followed with the Bruins' defense limiting the Eagles to just one point while the offense scored six points to take a 12-6 halftime lead.
Addison Schwarz and Grace Andrews led the Bruins on a 14-7 run in the third quarter with both players scoring four points in the period.
The fourth quarter was Liberty Common's best quarter with Eve Norman scoring five of the Eagles' 11 points. Cedaredge finished the frame with nine points to make the final score 35-24.
Courtney Freeman led the Bruins with nine points and Schwarz chipped in five counters. There were five Bruins with four points in the win.
Anne Dutton was Liberty Common's top scorer with nine points and Norman finished with six.
Bruins 38, Tigers 35
Cedaredge fans have become accustomed to close, and low-scoring, games during the season and Saturday's regional title game was no different.
Cedaredge began the day with a 10-7 run after one period and closed out the first half with a 6-5 edge in the second quarter to take a 16-12 lead to halftime.
The 11th seeded Tigers came out with bared claws in the third quarter and battled to a 16-10 advantage for a 28-26 lead after three quarters of play.
The Bruins stayed with their game plan (defense) and managed to hold Jefferson Academy to seven points while Cedaredge's offense finished the game with 12 points (four of them from Andrews) in the final period to advance to the Great 8 with a 38-35 win.
Sophomore Makayla Kehmeier was Cedaredge's leading scorer with nine points, with seniors Grace Andrews and Jade McGovern scoring eight and seven points respectively and junior Dalia Alejandre was next high with five.
Jefferson Academy's Rachel Moreno was the game's leading scorer with 11 points.
Coach Ryan Hilbig was emotional after his team won the regional title. "This weekend we won the only way we know how ... way too close for comfort. But, the fun thing is, no matter how rough it gets, these girls never blink. They believe in each other and that we will be successful. Winning is a habit and we have created that habit here. I'm proud of the mental toughness this team has shown all year. I didn't know what to expect from this team this year, but I knew we could be pretty special."
Hilbig hasn't been too revealing to the media about his future plans but spoke of things to come. "It's definitely bittersweet to be leaving because the future of CHS hoops is bright with talent and the WSL is on the rise as well. This league was the most competitive it's been since I've been around."
A final thought from Hilbig was directed toward the people around him. "I have learned from watching some fantastic coaches and have enjoyed competing with them. And, I'm thankful for the support of good friends."
The seventh annual Eckert Crane Days, the annual viewing of the sandhill cranes migrating north from New Mexico through Colorado's West Slope, will be March 16-18. Representatives from the Black Canyon Chapter of the Audubon Society (BCAS) will be at the viewing site east of Eckert at Fruitgrowers Reservoir, 9 to 11 a.m. each day, to answer questions and provide binoculars and spotting scopes.