AURORA | A look at the Class 5A girls state basketball semifinal involving an Aurora team — Grandview — set to played on March 10, 2015, at the Coors Events Center in Boulder.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
NO. 2 THUNDERRIDGE (23-3) VS. NO. 1 GRANDVIEW (26-0), 7 p.m.
Breakdown: Coach Josh Ulitzky has guided Grandview to the semifinals of the Class 5A girls state basketball tournament for the third time in the past four seasons, the most appearances in the Final Four for any 5A girls program during that span. The Wolves still seek their first trip to the state championship game, however, as their runs in 2012-13 and 2013-14 came to an end in the semifinals with losses to Regis Jesuit and Fossil Ridge, respectively. Grandview’s opponent, ThunderRidge — a team the Wolves beat 59-51 in non-league play on Jan. 26 — has qualified for the semifinals for two straight seasons and made to last season’s state championship game — its first final since the end of a three-year run of championships from 2003-2005 — before losing to Broomfield.
GRANDVIEW: Grandview comes into the semifinals having already established a program record for victories with 26 and is two wins away from completing a very rare perfect season. The top-seeded Wolves won the Kaye Garms Region of the 5A bracket with a 58-47 Great 8 win over Cherry Creek on March 4 at the Denver Coliseum, which earned them a three-game sweep of the Centennial League rival Bruins on the season. Grandview also posted dominating wins against Douglas County (77-29) and Fairview (81-31) in the second round and Sweet 16, respectively…Uber-athletic junior Michaela Onyenwere is the engine that makes the Wolves go and the two Gatorade Colorado Player of the Year — who received the award for a second straight season on March 10 — averages 24.5 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.0 steals per contest. Even while sitting out long stretches in the postseason, Onyenwere has scored 26 or more points in all three games and recorded two double-doubles, missing a third by one rebound. Freshman post Alisha Davis has been the perfect addition in the paint for a Grandview team loaded with guards and wing players. The 6-foot Davis is coming off a 13-point, 7-rebound performance in the Great 8 and she averages 7.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and a team-high 3.2 blocked shots per game. Junior Kennede Brown — the only other player along with Onyenwere who played for Grandview in its last trip to the semifinals — is one of three other Wolves averaging 7 or more points per game, a group that also includes junior Lenzi Hudson and sophomore Jaiden Galloway…THUNDERRIDGE: Coach Matt Asik’s ThunderRidge team comes into the game on a 10-game winning streak, which started in the game after the Grizzlies lost to Grandview on Jan. 26. To get to the semifinals, ThunderRidge knocked out top-seeded Lakewood with a 56-37 Great 8 victory on March 4 at the Denver Coliseum, which followed a second round playoff win over Monarch (42-22) and a Sweet 16 victory against Arapahoe (51-37)…In contrast to a young Grandview team, ThunderRidge features seven seniors, including three currently headed to play college basketball in Taylor Rusk (Wyoming), Jaz’myne Snipes (Regis University) and Alyssia Martinez (Black Hills State). The 5-10 Snipes has averaged 15.3 points per game in the postseason for the Grizzlies and leads the team with an average of 17.3 points per game and 8.4 rebounds per contest for the season. The 5-11 Rusk averages 15.9 points per game on the season and she’s been a tick above that in the postseason with an average of 17.3 points per contest. Martinez, a 5-7 guard, averages 8.9 points per game and generally contributes significantly in a lot of categories for the Grizzlies…Winner: The winner moves into the 5A state championship game, which is scheduled for 3 p.m. March 12 on the same floor at the Coors Events Center against the winner of the other semifinal between Highlands Ranch and Ralston Valley.