Winter Sports All-Aurora 2016-17: State champ Grandview prevalent on All-Aurora Girls Hoops Team

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Grandview High School Michaela Onyenwere on Monday March 06, 2017 at Grandview High School. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel
Grandview senior Michaela Onyenwere leaves Colorado girls prep basketball as the most accomplished player ever from Aurora at the prep level as the first McDonald’s All-American from a city program, three Gatorade Colorado Player of the Year awards and a Class 5A state championship. The UCLA signee headlines the 2016-17 Aurora Sentinel All-Aurora Girls Basketball Team. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)

Grandview, one of Aurora’s historically great girls prep basketball teams, is justifiably well-represented on the 2016-17 Aurora Sentinel All-Aurora Girls Basketball Team.

The Wolves put themselves in the conversation with the Division I-laden Regis Jesuit teams of recent years during a 27-1 season that saw them go undefeated against Colorado teams and win the program’s first Class 5A state championship in decisive fashion.

Grandview High School Leilah Vigil on Monday March 06, 2017 at Grandview High School. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel
Junior transfer Leilah Vigil injected emotion and strong inside play to a Grandview team that went on to win the Class 5A girls state basketball championship. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)

Leading the way on the All-Aurora Girls Basketball Team —which is selected by the Sentinel in conjunction with input of city coaches — is Grandview’s Michaela Onyenwere, who has cemented herself as the most accomplished girls prep basketball player to pass through Aurora, as evidenced by her selection as the first McDonald’s All-American pick from a city school.

The three-time Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year, UCLA signee and top-10 national prospect in the estimation of most publications ceded a bit of her statistical output as her scoring (20.8 ppg) and rebounding (8.9 rpg) were her lowest averages since her freshman year, but that was due to the tremendous depth of the state champs.

Onyenwere always delivered in pivotal moments for her team and seemed exceptionally driven in the state championship game, she scored as many points as Grandview’s opponent Lakewood (21) in the opening half. The inaugural A-Town All-Star girls game selection finished with 25, which gave her 2,290 career points, a mark that stands as the fourth-most in state history according to the Colorado High School Activities Association’s most recent records.

Coach Josh Ulitzky’s Wolves finished 97-10 in her four varsity seasons — winning a minimum of 20 games each season — while Onyenwere missed just one game.

Grandview High School Jaiden Galloway on Monday March 06, 2017 at Grandview High School. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel
Junior Jaiden Galloway’s play in the backcourt for Class 5A state champion Grandview earned her first team All-Centennial League and All-Aurora honors for the 2016-17 girls basketball season. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)

The ingredient that seemed to push Grandview over the championship brink was fire and junior transfer Leilah Vigil had a deep supply to provide her new team.

Once she’d been cleared to play for the entire season after her move from Highlands Ranch (where she lost in last season’s 5A state title game), Vigil quickly began to work her way into the fabric of a team that had a lot of returning players from a season that ended in the 5A semifinals.

Vigil’s low post presence and heart-on-her-sleeve emotion were crucial at times and she finished second to Onyenwere in both scoring (13.8 ppg) and rebounding (8.6 rpg). The All-Centennial League first teamer and A-Town All-Star had seven double-doubles on the season.

Grandview needed a playmaker and distributor to make use of its many offensive weapons and junior Jaiden Galloway fit both roles to a tee.

With a deft ability to penetrate into the interior of defenses, the first team All-Centennial League performer dished out 3.8 assists per game to go with her scoring average of 8.0 points per contest. She flashed her scoring ability with a 29-point explosion in a Great 8 playoff win over Doherty.

Regis Jesuit High School Francesca Belibi on Monday March 06, 2017 at Grandview High School. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel
Regis Jesuit sophomore Fran Belibi won Continental League Player of the Year honors for the 2016-17 girls basketball season and helped lead the Raiders to the Class 5A semifinals. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)

Galloway — who was selected for the A-Town All-Star Game and The Show girls top 20 all-star game — also averaged 3.0 steals per game and spent plenty of time harassing opposing ballhandlers along with backcourt mate Kennede Brown.

Aurora’s new wave of girls hoops talent is young, with Regis Jesuit’s Francesca Belibi at the forefront.

In just her second season as a serious basketball player (tennis had been her primary sport), the 6-foot-1 sophomore created a national stir when she became the first Colorado girls player to dunk in a game. She threw down a one-hander on a breakaway against Grand Junction and did it once more in the regular season and again in the playoffs.

Every time she had the ball in her hands, Belibi was must-watch and she went on to have a season that earned her Continental League Player of the Year accolades for coach Carl Mattei’s 20-7 team, which made it to the 5A semifinals with a very young roster.

Belibi finished as one of only two Aurora players to average a double-double (Rangeview’s Angel Broadus was the other) as she scored 15.7 points and secured 11.6 rebounds per game, while her 3.2 blocked shots ranked second in 5A.

Cherokee Trail High School Makayla Hemingway on Friday March 03, 2017 at Smoky Hill High School. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel
Cherokee Trail freshman Makayla Hemingway contributed in a wide variety of categories for her team during the 2016-17 girls basketball season on her way to the All-Centennial League and All-Aurora first team. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)

Cherokee Trail’s future appears bright with a very young cast headed by freshman Makayla Hemingway, who stuffed the box score night in and night out when she was in the lineup.

One of only two freshmen on the All-Centennial League first team, Hemingway led the league with an average of 6.3 assists per game, while she also finished with 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 steals per contest.

Hemingway’s play was particularly vital midway through the season when leading scorer Taryn Foxen was lost for several games due to injury. Her scoring average of 12.7 points per game ranked only behind Foxen’s 16.6 per contest.

Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel

2016-17 AURORA SENTINEL ALL-AURORA GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM

FIRST TEAM

Fran Belibi, Regis Jesuit, soph.; Jaiden Galloway, Grandview, jr.; Makayla Hemingway, Cherokee Trail, fr.; Michaela Onyenwere, Grandview, sr.; Leilah Vigil, Grandview, jr.

SECOND TEAM

Angel Broadus, Rangeview, soph.;  Makayla Jones, Gateway, sr.; Alisha Davis, Grandview, soph.; Taryn Foxen, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Emma Wrede, Regis Jesuit, jr.

HONORABLE MENTION

Kailey Brown, Overland, soph.; Kennede Brown, Grandview, sr.; Noelle Cahill, Regis Jesuit, jr.; Korynne Chaney, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Kierra Cox, Vista PEAK, jr.; Bre Hill, Hinkley, sr.; Lenzi Hudson, Grandview, sr.; Denali Hughes, Vista PEAK, soph.; Jaelin Jones, Rangeview, sr.; LeShawn Love, Rangeview, sr.; Allyah Marlett, Grandview, soph.; DeMe Moore, Vista PEAK, sr.; Jada Moore, Regis Jesuit, fr.; Taylor O’Brien, Eaglecrest, sr.; Maria del Rosario Garcia, Aurora Central, sr.; Brandie Radilla, Aurora Central, sr.; Jessica Stoner, Eaglecrest, sr.; Lyric Thompson, Overland, jr.; Raquel Turner, Eaglecrest, soph.; Sha’la Wiggins, Eaglecrest, sr.