AURORA | Preview capsule for the 2017 Class 5A girls state basketball Sweet 16 matchup of Regis Jesuit at Fossil Ridge on Feb. 28, 2017:
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
AURORA 2017 GIRLS 5A SWEET 16 PREVIEW CAPSULE
NO. 11 REGIS JESUIT (18-6) AT NO. 6 FOSSIL RIDGE (19-5), 6:30 P.M.
BREAKDOWN: This Alice Barron Regional contest pits a Regis Jesuit team that has won seven straight games against a Fossil Ridge team that is on an eight-game winning streak of its own. The teams last played each other in the Class 5A state championship game in 2013-14, with the Raiders prevailing 60-34.
REGIS JESUIT: The Raiders have been stopped in the second round of the 5A playoffs in each of the past two seasons, but the Continental League runners-up earned their way into the Sweet 16 for the first time since the title-winning 2013-14 season with a 64-35 home win over Fort Collins on Feb. 24. Coach Carl Mattei’s Regis Jesuit team had just a one-point lead after one quarter, but what a first quarter it was with sophomore F Francesca Belibi — the first girls basketball player in Colorado to dunk in a game — threw down her third dunk of the season. It was part of a 21-point effort for the budding 6-foot-1 Raiders star, who was joined in double figures by junior C Noelle Cahill (11) and G Korynne Chaney, the team’s only senior who scored 10 points in her last home game for the program. A 15-5 third quarter advantage gave full command of the game to Regis Jesuit against a Fort Collins team that has become a regular opponent in the postseason…For the season, Belibi has averaged 16.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocked shots her game to lead her team in those categories, while junior G Emma Wrede is next at 9.8 points per game and the 6-2 Cahill averages 8.6 per contest. Chaney, junior G Jasmine Gaines and freshman G Jada Moore are all capable of big games, while sophomore F Sidney Weigand and junior F Olivia Ayers each are integral to what the Raiders do on both ends of the floor.
FOSSIL RIDGE: The SaberCats, who also had a first round bye, handled fellow Front Range League foe Broomfield for the second time this season with a 59-32 victory in the second round Feb. 24. Coach Chad Salz’s Fossil Ridge team — which had exited the postseason in the second round a year ago — hasn’t been beaten since a 57-45 loss to third-seeded Horizon and beat the Fort Collins team Regis Jesuit just faced by three points on Jan. 31. In the playoff win, senior F Britt Mishak led the SaberCats with 16 points — more than double her season average of 7.8 points per game — while sophomore G Ashley Steffeck finished a shade under her team-leading average of 15 points per game with 12 and junior F Reilly Dunn added nine points in a game that saw 10 players score…Statistically, Fossil Ridge has had good balance and depth throughout the season as five regulars have averaged 6.2 or more points per game and two others have been good for four or more per contest. Mishak (6.3 rpg) and Steffeck (6.2 rpg) lead the way in rebounding, while Steffek also tops her team in steals per game (a whopping 4.1) and assists (2.8).
WINNER GETS: The Regis Jesuit-Fossil Ridge winner moves into the Great 8 round to face the winner of the Sweet 16 contest between No. 19 Loveland and No. 3 Horizon. The March 3 Great 8 contest at the Denver Coliseum will decide the winner of the Alice Barron Region and will yield a berth in the Final Four.