COLORADO SPRINGS | For the first time in nearly a full decade, the Eaglecrest girls basketball team is alive in to the second round of the Class 5A state basketball tournament.
On a night that saw a great deal of upsets, the 35th-seeded Raptors edged No. 30 Liberty 32-30 Tuesday for the program’s first postseason victory since it beat Douglas County to begin the 2007-08 playoffs.
Coach Robby Gabrielli’s Eaglecrest team took a one-point lead after the first quarter against the Lancers and never gave it up to early its 10th win of the season and the right to face third-seeded Horizon (20-3) on the road in Friday’s second round.
“It was definitely a good night; it was something we set out as a goal (to win a playoff game), so to pull through and do it was great,” said Gabrielli, whose team got into double digits in victories as well.
“The senior girls really wanted to be the class that changed that if they could and the young girls really wanted to have it happen early in their careers so it can become normal for the program.”
Sophomore Raquel Turner led Eaglecrest with nine points, while seniors Jessica Stoner and Samoane Emecheta added eight apiece.
The Raptors’ largest lead of the game came at six points after three quarters, but to Gabrielli’s chagrin they allowed Liberty to tie it up with just over a minute remaining and have possession with 7.2 seconds left with just a two-point advantage. The Lancers were unable to get off a shot to tie or win.
“We thought once we got up six that we had enough cushion, but we gave them life,” Gabrielli said.
Eaglecrest was one of just two victorious Aurora teams in the opening round of the 5A playoffs, as they were joined by 29th-seeded Rangeview, a 55-47 winner at home against No. 36 Palmer. No. 25 Cherokee Trail was toppled by 40th-seeded Vista Ridge and No. 33 Overland fell on the road to No. 32 ThunderRidge 47-30.
(Full Aurora prep scoreboard, here)
Eaglecrest and Rangeview (which will play at No.3 Ralston Valley) will be joined in action on Friday by Aurora’s two teams that had first-round byes in No. 2 Grandview and No. 11 Regis Jesuit. The Wolves will play host to 31st-seeded Dakota Ridge at 7 p.m., while the Raiders welcome in No. 22 Fort Collins.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
(35) EAGLECREST 32, (30) LIBERTY 30
Score by quarters:
Eaglecrest 6 11 10 5 — 32
Liberty 5 11 5 9 — 30
Eaglecrest points: Raquel Turner 9, Samoane Emecheta 8, Jessica Stoner 8, Jadyn Ross 3, Hidaya Thornton 2, Selah Ruckard 1, Calah Sewell 1