Senior Avery VanSickle (11) poured in 16 points in the Class 5A girls state basketball championship game, but it wasn’t enough as the second-seeded Raiders fell to top-seeded Valor Christian 67-42 on March 21, 2021, at World Arena in Colorado Springs. VanSickle and the Raiders ended the season 15-2 with both losses coming to the Eagles. (Photo by Paul DiSalvo/Pauldisalvophotography.com)

COLORADO SPRINGS | The Regis Jesuit girls basketball team finished a trying 2021 season with just two losses and both came to Valor Christian, including Sunday night’s meeting in the Class 5A state championship game.

The second-seeded Raiders — who suffered a loss even before tip off at World Arena when sophomore guard Savitri Jackson injured her knee in warm-ups — started strong, but couldn’t keep pace with the top-seeded Eagles, who completed an undefeated season with a 67-42 victory.

Senior Avery VanSickle scored 16 points to lead coach Carl Mattei’s Regis Jesuit team, which also got six apiece from senior Samantha Jones and freshmen Hana Belibi and Coryn Watts. The Raiders didn’t have enough offensive firepower to keep up with Valor Christian (17-0), which had four players in double figures.

“It was the strangest year; we were crying before the game after we lost Savi,” Mattei said of Jackson, who was a major part of Regis Jesuit’s 73-69 semifinal victory of Grandview and played a key part in the Raiders’ game plan against the Eagles.

Valor Christian’s Kindyll Wetta, center, has to pass out of trouble as she is surrounded by Regis Jesuit’s Avery VanSickle, left, and Madden McHugh, right, during the Class 5A girls state basketball championship game on March 21, 2021, at the World Arena in Colorado Springs. (Photo by Paul DiSalvo/Pauldisalvophotography.com)

The Raiders felt good about their preparations for the program’s seventh all-time trip to the state championship game between their time in 4A and 5A. Regis Jesuit is now 3-4 all-time in title games and won its last title in 2014.

But the loss of Jackson — who was one of just three players with significant varsity experience for Regis Jesuit this season and was key in the semifinal win with 14 points — took an emotional toll just before the game and also strained a lineup that wasn’t exceptionally deep to begin with.

In the first-ever postseason meeting between the two parochial schools — and just third overall — Regis Jesuit took an early 7-3 lead, but found itself down by nine by the end of the first quarter at 19-10. Turnovers began to mount and senior-heavy Valor Christian found its range from 3-point range with five triples in the opening half to get the lead to double digits.

Freshman Hana Belibi made two free throws to follow a VanSickle layup that cut the Raiders’ deficit to six points, but a five-point burst by the Eagles made it an 11-point contest at halftime.

VanSickle had nine of her team’s 18 points in the opening half.

Junior Madden McHugh knocked down a 3-pointer for Regis Jesuit to open the 3rd quarter and make it an eight-point game, but Valor Christian made three 3-pointers in a stretch of 2:30 in the quarter to get the lead to 21.

Watts — who started in place of Jackson — made a pair of 3-pointers for the Raiders in the game in the fourth quarter, but the Eagles rarely didn’t come up with points on the other end and built a lead that crested at 27 points.

Mattei took VanSickle and Jones out of the game with just over a minute left in regulation as a tribute to their contributions to the program over four varsity seasons.

The pair helped Regis Jesuit to an 83-15 record in that span, appeared in at least the Great 8 every year, the Final Four three times and the state championship game twice, including a loss to Grandview in the 2017-18 5A state final.

Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports

(1) VALOR CHRISTIAN 67, (2) REGIS JESUIT 42

Score by quarters:

Regis Jesuit      10    8   7   17 — 42

Valor Christian  19  10  17  21 — 67

REGIS JESUIT (42)

Madden McHugh 1 0-0 3, Coryn Watts 2 0-0 6, Avery VanSickle 6 2-2 16, Hana Belibi 2 2-2 6, Jordan Jones 1 0-0 3, Samantha Jones 3 0-0 6, Emily Thomas 1 0-0 2, Abigail Shea 0 0-0 0, London Bachelet 0 0-0 0, Joy Ezeh 0 0-0 0, Kate Michalek 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 4-4 42.

VALOR CHRISTIAN (67)

Kindyll Wetta 5 7-11 17, Jenna Siebert 4 0-0 10, Haley Huard 1 1-2 3, Karissa Lukasiewicz 2 3-3 7, Macey Huard 4 0-0 11, Ali Wetta 6 0-1 14, Sydney McKibbon 2 0-0 5, Skyler Boylan 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 11-17 67.

3-point field goals — Regis Jesuit (6): Coryn Watts 2, Avery VanSickle 2, Jordan Jones, Madden McHugh. Valor Christian (8): Macey Huard 3, Jenna Siebert 2, Ali Wetta 2, Sydney McKibbon. Total fouls — Regis Jesuit 15, Valor Christian 14. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — Regis Jesuit.

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