DENVER | Two years and a pandemic later, Lauren Betts and the Grandview girls basketball team finally knew what it was like to be Class 5A state champions.
Betts, the 6-foot-7 phenom who is the consensus top-rated player in the country, and the Wolves lost a heartbreaking state final when she was a freshman in 2019. They had their championship shot scrubbed in 2020 with the ill-timed explosion of COVID-19. Then the team got derailed in the semifinals a year ago.
That left Betts and fellow senior Marya Hudgins with just one last chance to win the state championship rings they coveted.
Boy, did they take advantage.
The duo combined for 30 points and coach Josh Ulitzky’s team got vital contributions from every player that touched the floor Saturday night in a 52-40 victory over Valor Christian that brought home the program’s first state title since 2018 and third all-time.
“I texted my parents this morning and said ‘I refuse to lose,'” Betts said after leaving a lengthy lockerroom celebration. “I don’t care what happens, I have to keep my focus. My teammates can’t see me slacking, so I have to keep the mentality that we were going to win this and we did.”
Though she was outscored by a point (14-13), Betts got the better of the matchup with friend and Valor Christian star Raegan Beers in a battle of players that both have picked for the prestigious McDonald’s All-American Game later this month and both are headed to Pac-12 Division I program, Betts to Stanford, Beers to Oregon State.
Hudgins finished with a game-high 17 points to win her second career state championship — one as a senior to go with the one she won in Georgia as a freshman before moving to Colorado — freshman Sienna Betts added nine and senior Amaya Charles contributed eight as Grandview finished the season on a 13-game winning streak and ended 17-9.
Junior Isa Dillehay and sophomore Gabriella Cunningham finished with just a combined five points, but they were big factors on the defensive end and kept plenty of possessions alive with hustle plays that helped add up to the final result.
With the game decided, Betts got to share a special moment on the bench with her sister Sienna, who was a huge contributor to the title run, as they embraced with tears in their eyes as they completed the only varsity season they got to play together — with a title.
“This is something we talked about in middle school,” Betts said. “If anyone took a picture of that, it’s going to be framed 100 percent. It was a ‘we did it’ kind of thing. Obviously we wanted to keep our mentality that the game wasn’t over, but when those seconds went down and I was hugging my sister, it was like ‘I can’t believe this is happening, this is insane.”
Grandview’s previous two state championships game in 2017 and 2018.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] com. Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
(3) GRANDVIEW 52, (1) VALOR CHRISTIAN 40
Score by quarters:
Grandview 12 14 13 13 — 52
Valor Christian 11 4 7 18 — 40
Amaya Charles 1 5-7 8, Sienna Betts 2 5-6 9, Gabriella Cunningham 1 1-2 3, Marya Hudgins 7 2-2 17, Lauren Betts 5 3-4 13, Isa Dillehay 1 0-0 2, Paeytn Lewis 0 0-0 0, Leiava Holliman 0 0-0 0, Kennedy O’Brien 0 0-0 0, Sydnie McClain 0 0-0 0, Deija Robertson 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 16-21 52.
VALOR CHRISTIAN (40)
Macey Huard 4 2-2 10, Mariah Hilliard 0 0-0 0, Quinn VanSickle 2 0-0 5, Raegen Beers 6 2-2 14, Alyssa Fabrowki 2 0-0 6, Sydney Baller 0 0-0 0, Rylie Beers 1 0-0 2, Emma Lytle 1 0-0 3, Anna Allison 0 0-0 0, Eva Parks 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 4-4 40.
3-point field goals — Grandview (2): Amaya Charles, Marya Hudgins; Valor Christian (4): Alyssa Fabrowki 2, Emma Lytle, Quinn VanSickle. Total fouls — Grandview 7, Valor Christian 21. Fouled out — Valor Christian: Mariah Hilliard. Technical fouls — None.