AURORA | Lexi Yi found herself wide open on many occasions Friday night and she took advantage of the space to give the Grandview girls basketball team just what it needed.
The freshman guard’s confidence built as she scored seven points in the opening quarter and finished with 19 points to blow past her previous career high to help lead the new-look Wolves to a 60-48 victory over visiting Regis Jesuit.
Sophomore Sienna Betts added 17 points and dominated the glass and the defending Class 5A state champions — who are currently unranked in 6A — and coach Josh Ulitzky’s young Grandview team got contributions from all over to defeat the Raiders, who came in ranked No. 5 in the most recent CHSAANow.com 6A coaches poll.
“I don’t score that much,” said Yi, who was just one game removed from a scoreless outing against Arapahoe. “I was a little surprised I was being left open, but I just have to take my opportunity to score and help the team.”
Yi — whose previous career high in points was eight, which came in the season opener at the She Got Game Classic in Texas — knocked down a pair of jumpers in the first minute of the game to help Grandview hang with Regis Jesuit, which came out dialed in from 3-point range.
Coach Jordan Kasemodel’s Raiders (11-6) came in on a five-game winning streak and knocked down five 3-pointers (three from sophomore Iliana Greene and two from junior Hana Belibi) in the opening period. But the Wolves still managed to have a one-point lead as Betts matched Yi with seven points.
Regis Jesuit drained two more triples in the second quarter to make up that point and the game went into halftime tied at 29-29.
As nearly every team has done, the Raiders surrounded the 6-foot-3 Betts with defenders and limited her to just one basket in the second half, but it continued to open things up for the other Grandview players, who came through consistently.
“It’s been pretty universal all season that teams try to limit the touches on Sienna, so she’s getting more accustomed to it,” Ulitzky said. “The big piece is that kids were having opportunities along the way and now they are building the confidence to knock down shots.”
Four different players scored for the Wolves in the third quarter as sophomore Maya Smith made a big 3-pointer and Yi tallied five more points, including a cutting layup just before the quarter horn that sent Grandview into the fourth quarter up by six points.
The lead grew to 10 on sophomore Deija Roberson’s only basket of the game in the opening minute of the quarter and the Wolves threatened to pull away. But Regis Jesuit got three straight 3-pointers from senior Sophia Meyer to the deficit to just two points with 4:50 left.
Yi struck yet again with a 3-pointer and a layup on the press break to restore a cushion and Smith came through three-point play to extend the advantage.
Betts spent her time passing the ball, snatching rebounds and blocking or altering shots while her teammates did the damage offensively. Her only basket of the second half came on a layup inside the final minute with her team already up 12 and was fine with it.
“Scoring is not the only thing I can for this team,” Betts said. “I realized that pretty quick in the second half that it’s not going to be open, so I just wanted to focus on other things like rebounding. Lexi and everybody else played it perfectly.”
Belibi finished with a team-high 18 points for Regis Jesuit, while Greene finished with 17 points and Meyer 10. Junior Coryn Watts, who came in averaging 15 points per game, was kept off the scoresheet.
Grandview got a surge of confidence at a good time, as it faces a difficult week ahead with Centennial League matchups against Cherokee Trail, Cherry Creek and Eaglecrest — all ranked in the 6A top 10 — coming up.
It is part of a stretch of six games in nine days — the Cherokee Trail game Monday is a reschedule from a snow day — that will be pivotal for the Wolves.
“I think today was a big step and we needed it with the big dogs coming up,” Ulitzky said.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
GRANDVIEW 60, (6A NO. 5) REGIS JESUIT 48
Score by quarters:
Regis Jesuit 17 12 5 14 — 48
Grandview 18 11 11 20 — 60
REGIS JESUIT (48)
Jane Rumpf 1 0-0 3, Coryn Watts 0 0-0 0, Hana Belibi 7 0-0 18, Sophia Meyer 3 1-2 10, Iliana Greene 7 0-0 17, Lexi Meyer 0 0-0 0, Jada Hodges 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 1-2 48.
Benedicte Kalala 2 1-2 5, Lexi Yi 8 1-2 19, Sydnie McClain 3 0-0 7, Isa Dillehay 1 2-5 4, Sienna Betts 7 3-3 17, Maya Smith 2 1-2 6, Deija Roberson 1 0-0 2, Bryton DeHaven 0 0-0 0, Emma Tebben 0 0-0 0, Leiva Holliman 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 8-14 60.
3-point field goals — Regis Jesuit (11): Hana Belibi 4, Iliana Greene 3, Sophia Meyer 3, Jane Rumpf. Grandview (4): Lexi Yi 2, Sydnie McClain, Maya Smith. Total fouls — Regis Jesuit 15, Grandview 5. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.