AURORA | A capsule preview of the 2023 Class 6A girls basketball state tournament Great 8 contest between Grandview and Highlands Ranch scheduled for March 4, 2023:
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2023 CLASS 6A GREAT 8 GIRLS BASKETBALL STATE PLAYOFF GAME
NO. 11 GRANDVIEW (16-9) vs. NO. 3 HIGHLANDS RANCH (22-3)
March 4, 11:45 a.m. at Denver Coliseum
BREAKDOWN: Grandview and Highlands Ranch renew a tradition of meeting deep in the postseason as they clash for the fifth time in the playoffs and the third time in the past six seasons. The Falcons won a 2nd round matchup in 2007, a Great 8 contest in 2012, but the Wolves won a quarterfinal meeting in 2018 (on its way to the Class 5A state championship) and again last season in the Final Four (after which it won another title). The teams square off for a second time this season as Highlands Ranch claimed a 54-26 non-league victory Jan. 7 in a game that saw four Falcons — Kniyah Dumas with 11 points and Tori Baker, Maddie Groth and Bailey Williams with 10 apiece — while team-high honors were seven points apiece for senior Isa Dillehay and junior Emma Tebben for the Wolves, who played without star sophomore Sienna Betts. …Grandview, the defending large school champion, is in the Great 8 for the eighth consecutive season and has made it to at least the Final Four in all of the previous seven trips and earned a spot in the state championship game in five of those seasons. Highlands Ranch has made the Great 8 in every season during the same stretch as Grandview and made it to the Final Four four times, but has not made it to the state championship game since the 2012-13 season. Highlands Ranch is tied for the second-most state titles all-time with seven, while Grandview is one of 11 programs with three state crowns. …The game is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. as the third of an eight-game slate of alternating girls and boys 6A Great 8 contests.
GRANDVIEW: Coach Josh Ulitzky’s team has just two players back who were on the floor for last season’s 5A state championship victory in senior Isa Dillehay and sophomore Sienna Betts and has steadily improved with five victories in its last six games. Grandview opening the postseason with a 57-27 home win over No. 22 Douglas County and followed that with a 52-50 road win at No. 6 Fountain-Fort Carson in a game that was decided on a basket by Betts in the final seconds. In two postseason games, the 6-foot-3 Betts has averaged 19.5 points, 17 rebounds and eight blocked shots, while the only other player to score in double figures for the Wolves is senior Sydnie McClain, who had 10 points in the opening round. Sophomore Deija Roberson averages 8.5 points and McClain and senior Benedicte Kalala have averaged 7.5 per contest. …For the season, Betts is the leading rebounder in Colorado (regardless of classification) at 16.2 boards per game, paces 6A in blocked shots at 3.9 per contest and ranks second (by 0.1 of a point) in her classification in scoring average at 21.6 points per contest. McClain has tallied 6.5 points per contest, with Roberson and Kalala at 5.1 per contest. Dillehay averages 3.8 assists and 2.2 steals per game to lead Grandview in both categories.
HIGHLANDS RANCH: Coach Caryn Jarocki — by far the winningest coach in Colorado girls basketball history who surpassed the 700-victory milestone earlier this season — guided her team to the Continental League championship and has the Falcons on a 14-game winning streak. In the playoffs, Highlands Ranch has posted a 52-39 win over No. 30 Westminster in the first round, followed by a 54-34 victory over No. 19 Eaglecrest in the Sweet 16. Sophomore Tori Baker has averaged 18.5 points per game and dished out five assists per contest, while sophomore Ezra Simonich has averaged 15 points and freshman Isabella Shumpert also has a double-digit scoring effort in the playoffs with 10 against Eaglecrest. …For the season, Baker has knocked down 57 3-pointers (seventh-most in 6A) and that has helped her average 15.3 points per game, while Simonich is next at 10.1 points per game with senior Maddie Groth checking in at 9.0 points per game in addition to a team-high 7.5 rebounds per contest. Baker averages 3.9 assists per game to lead her team and rank in the top five in the classification.
WINNER GETS: The Grandview-Highlands Ranch winner takes the championship of the Jenny Coalson Region and advances to the March 10 Final Four, where it will face the winner of the quarterfinal between No. 2 Cherry Creek and No. 7 Doherty.