Girls Basketball: Grandview headed for return trip to Boulder for 5A Final Four

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Grandview-Rampart 5A Girls Great 8 Basketball 3.6.14
Grandview seniors, from left, Katie Cunningham, Natalie Halbleib, Jen Jordan, Brittany Bender and Denise Batiste pose with the Kaye Garms Region plaque they won with a 50-34 victory over Rampart on March 6, 2014, at the Denver Coliseum. The Wolves earned a second straight trip to the 5A semifinals. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

DENVER | In the Great 8 for the third straight year, it was time for the Grandview girls basketball team to welcome a newcomer to the party.

Rallying around a core of seniors who know their away around at the Denver Coliseum — and suffered a big loss their two years earlier — and the precocious play of freshman Michaela Onyenwere, the top-seeded Wolves made the first trip to the venue very uncomfortable for second-seeded Rampart in a decisive 50-34 victory.

Onyenwere scored 19 points, senior Katie Cunningham added 13 and senior Natalie Halbleib had 12 as coach Josh Ulitzky’s Grandview team earned its second straight trip to the state semifinals.

“It’s a huge help; if you look historically, I’m sure there’s some anomalies, but getting here for the first time makes a difference,” said Ulitzky, who improved to 2-1 at the Denver Coliseum.

“We got drilled our first time here and we learned our lesson,” he added. “That was something that I think was very important, just to be able to say you stepped on this floor and walked out here. It counts for something.”

Several of the Wolves (24-2) got their first taste of the Coors Events Center in Boulder in last season’s semifinals, where they lost a close one to Regis Jesuit.

Grandview’s path to its first state title game — where it could face the Raiders, a 72-31 winner over Lakewood in another Great 8 game — goes through top-seeded Fossil Ridge (25-1) in a March 13 Final Four contest.

Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel

(1) GRANDVIEW 50, (2) RAMPART 34

Score by quarters:

Rampart        9   7     6  12 — 34

Grandview  15   11  13   11 — 50

RAMPART (34)

Megan Kavalec 1 0-0 3, Cassidy Budge 5 0-0 12, Nicea Eliely 5 2-4 12, Victoria Mondy 0 0-0 0, Kara Jones 0 0-0 0, Gabi O’Conner 1 0-0 3, Lauren Mochowski 0 0-0 0, JoJo Jurado 1 0-0 2, Lucia Archuleta 0 0-0 0, Kaleah Hiers 0 2-4 2. Totals 13 4-8 34.

GRANDVIEW (50)

Jen Jordan 1 0-0 2, Michaela Onyenwere 7 5-7 19, Natalie Halbleib 4 3-3 12, Katie Cunningham 5 3-5 13, Brittany Bender 2 0-0 4, Kennede Brown 0 0-0 0, Cristina Salazar 0 0-0 0, Alexis Gregson-Hammond 0 0-2 0, Hannah Hesstedt 0 0-2 0. Totals 19 11-19 50.

3-point field goals — Rampart (4): Cassidy Budge 2, Megan Kavalec Gabi O’Conner; Grandview: Natalie Halbleib. Totals fouls — Rampart 15, Grandview 8. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.