Girls Basketball: Regis Jesuit holds off Highlands Ranch to win second 5A state title

154
Highlands Ranch-Regis Jesuit 5A state championship 3.16.13
Regis Jesuit junior Kelsi Lidge, center, holds the Class 5A girls state basketball championship trophy as her teammates circle around her after the Raiders’ 53-46 victory over Highlands Ranch on March 16, 2013, at the Coors Events Center in Boulder. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

BOULDER | Carl Mattei’s new suit was soaked Saturday evening, but the Regis Jesuit girls basketball coach took his dousing in stride.

Afterall, his Raiders team — one he dubbed a “rebuilding project” at the beginning of the season because of graduation and other losses — had just defeated Continental League rival Highlands Ranch 53-46 in the Class 5A state championship game at the Coors Events Center, then dumped a cooler of water on him in celebration.

Without a senior on the roster, the Raiders secured the second 5A state championship in school history and first since 2009. Regis Jesuit is the only Aurora school to win a state championship in girls basketball.

“They broke it in for me,” said Mattei, whose team avenged championship game losses to Highlands Ranch in 2008 and 2011.

Junior Justine Hall scored 24 points to lead Regis Jesuit, while fellow juniors Diani Akigbogun and Kelsi Lidge chipped in 10 apiece. Akigbogun added 13 rebounds for the Raiders, who posted their second win of the season against the Falcons and finished 26-2.

Regis Jesuit lost to Mullen in the 4A title game in 2006 and is now 2-3 all-time in championship games, including its victory over Monarch in the 2009 5A final. The Raiders gave the Continental League its 14th state championship in the past 16 seasons.

“It’s so amazing, there are no words to describe this feeling,” Hall said. “It’s awesome in that we just came out here and played with so much heart and so much passion. You could see it in our eyes and everything that we did. We didn’t let opportunities pass by, we gave our all in everything.”

The title didn’t come easy to Regis Jesuit, though it looked comfortable for Mattei’s squad for most of the contest. The Raiders blew out the Falcons in their previous meeting and had a lead as large as 14 points in the third quarter in the rematch.

Highlands Ranch mostly sleepwalked through the first 20 minutes of game time, but amped up the pressure in the fourth quarter.

Regis Jesuit’s nine-point lead with 1:38 remaining shriveled all the way to two points with 41.8 seconds left. Abriana Lujan hit a 3-pointer and converted a steal into another basket and Kelsey Wainright made two free throws.

“I knew they were going to come at us with everything they had one last time and we had to weather that storm; once we did, Neffie (Lockley) got to the line and made it three and that’s when I thought we pulled away a little bit,” Mattei said.

Lockley made a free throw to give the Raiders back a three-point cushion at 49-46 and Lujan banked in a layup at the other end, but was whistled for an offensive foul.

Hall made a pair of free throws to up Regis Jesuit’s lead to five and Lidge capped the victory with a steal and two free throws.

Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at [email protected] or 303-750-7555

(1) REGIS JESUIT 53, (1) HIGHLANDS RANCH 46

Score by quarters:

Regis Jesuit   16  8  12  17 — 53

High. Ranch   11  4  12  19 — 46

REGIS JESUIT (53)

Justine Hall 7 9-10 24, Diani Akigbogun 4 2-8 10, Kelsi Lidge 3 3-4 10, Jess Lewis 0 1-3 1, Jordan Molyneaux 2 0-0 4, Neffie Lockley 0 1-3 1, Anna Ptasinski 1 0-0 3. Totals 17 16-28 53.

HIGHLANDS RANCH (46)

Abriana Lujan 4 2-2 12, Madison Montgomery 2 8-10 12, Ciera Morgan 2 3-3 7, Shelby Hickey 2 1-1 6, Kelsey Wainright 1 2-2 4, Emily Childress 0 0-0 0, Symone Starks 2 0-0 5, Emily Childress 0 0-0 0, Sarah Powner 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 16-18 46.

3-point field goals — Regis Jesuit (3): Justine Hall, Kelsi Lidge, Anna Ptasinski; Highlands Ranch (4): Abriana Lujan 2, Shelby Hickey, Symone Starks. Total fouls — Regis Jesuit 16, Highlands Ranch 21. Fouled out — Regis Jesuit: Diani Akigbogun; Highlands Ranch: Lujan, Starks. Technical fouls — None.