A remarkable Regis Jesuit girls basketball team that won’t soon be forgotten is fittingly well-represented on the 2013-14 Aurora Sentinel All-City Girls Basketball Team.
A trio of players from a 26-2 Raiders team that won a second straight Class 5A state championship and finished ranked higher nationally than any team in the history of Colorado — No. 4 in USA Today’s Super 25 and No. 3 in MaxPreps’ Xcellent 25 — make up the majority of the starting five as selected by the Sentinel with polling of city coaches.
Joining Regis Jesuit seniors Diani Akigbogun, Justine Hall and Kelsi Lidge on the All-City first team is dynamic freshman Michaela Onyenwere and senior Katie Cunningham of semifinalist Grandview.
Hall and Akigbogun — who were both selected to The Show all-star game — get widely compared against each other as far as the team and Colorado’s top talent. The difference is marginal at best, but Hall earned the majority of the nods from city coaches and is the Sentinel’s Player of the Year.
The Purdue signee won Gatorade’s Colorado Player of the Year award, was selected an Honorable Mention All-American by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association — as was Akigbogun — and made the all-tournament teams at a variety of tournaments played against elite out of state competition.
With the ability to shoot from 3-point range, hit from mid-range and finish in transition, the 5-foot-10 Hall averaged a team-best 15.8 points per game — including nine games of 20 or more points — and also contributed a team-high 3.2 steals per contest.
Akigbogun, last season’s Sentinel Player of the Year and also a Gatorade POY recipient, put even more work into her game as she prepared for her future at the University of Texas.
The 6-footer’s body control in the paint improved, which led to less fouls and kept her on the court more often, where she averaged 14.1 points per game and 7.2 rebounds. The Continental League Player of the Year took particular pride in her improvement at the free throw line, where she bumped her average to 69 percent from 54 percent a year ago.
Lidge might get overshadowed in terms of statistics, but Regis Jesuit needed her vital all-around contributions on both of its championship runs.
The 5-11 Drexel signee was the glue of the talented unit, contributing across the board night in and night out. Lidge could score when needed and finished in double figures in seven games — including a season-high 17 points in a win over Princeton (Ohio) at the Classic in the Country — but was the Regis Jesuit player most likely to take a charge or come up with a key rebound when it was needed.
Lidge — who was selected to the Colorado Coaches of Girls Sports 5A All-State Game — averaged 5.7 rebounds, 2.6 steals and 2.3 assists per game, ranking in the top three on her team in all of those categories.
Few Aurora freshmen have ever had the impact on Onyenwere, whose arrival helped Grandview (24-3) get back to the 5A semifinals for the second straight season despite massive graduation. The Wolves also finished 14-0 in the Centennial League for the first time in program history and won the league crown for the third straight season.
The spotlight landed on the athletic 5-11 inside player immediately after she scored 24 points in her varsity debut against Denver East and it only grew larger as the season progressed. Onyenwere — who is also an exceptional track athlete — ran the floor expertly, rebounded over taller players without fouling and showed a variety of effective post moves made more impressive by the fact that’s she’s only really played basketball for three years.
By the time her season was over, Onyenwere finished with the highest scoring average in Grandview history — 18.6 points per game — and also pulled down 9.7 rebounds per game.
Selected All-Colorado and All-Centennial League first team, Onyenwere capped her season by earning the Most Valuable Player award of The Show after a 13-point, 13-rebound performance.
Onyenwere’s teammate with coach Josh Ulitzky’s Wolves as well as the Show, Cunningham, rounds out the All-City first team.
The 5-10 Cunningham played point guard in her previous three seasons with Grandview, but played a different role as a senior when she was relied on in a variety of categories.
At 8.3 points per game, Cunningham finished third on the team in scoring average behind Onyenwere and sharpshooter Natalie Halbleib (13.3 ppg), but led the team in all other statistical categories aside from blocked shots.
Also chosen for the CCGS All-State Game and selected first team All-Centennial League, Cunningham averaged 7.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.4 steals per game.
Cunningham also leaves as the player with the career record for wins at Grandview. The four-year varsity player set the mark with her 76th victory on Jan. 29 when the Wolves won at Cherry Creek and she tacked on 10 more after that came to leave with 86 careers wins.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or email@example.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel
2013-14 AURORA SENTINEL ALL-CITY GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM
Diani Akigbogun, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Katie Cunningham, Grandview, sr.; Justine Hall, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Kelsi Lidge, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Michaela Onyenwere, Grandview, fr.; Player of Year: Justine Hall, Regis Jesuit; Coach of Year: Carl Mattei, Regis Jesuit
Natalie Halbleib, Grandview, sr.; Carra Jackson-Brown, Rangeview, sr.; Jess Lewis, Regis Jesuit, jr.; Anna Ptasinski, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Hannah Sparks, Cherokee Trail, sr.
Jaleesa Avery, Rangeview, soph.; Brittany Bender, Grandview, sr.; Fatima Davis, Cherokee Trail, sr.; Rhoziane Edmond, Hinkley, sr.; Lily Hartley, sr., Cherokee Trail; Jenna Henderson, Aurora Central, soph.; Michaela Hinton, Overland, sr.; Fatou Kieta, Gateway, sr.; Jaelin Jones, Rangeview, fr.; Neffie Lockley, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Precious Luster, Gateway, sr.; Rayne Mack, Vista PEAK, fr.; Jordan Molyneaux, Regis Jesuit, sr.; Zelle Moore, Overland, sr.; Brianna Purnell, Aurora Central, jr.; Carmen Ramey, Gateway, soph.; Franny Reed, Overland, soph.; Ajanee Robinson, Rangeview, sr.; Nyece Smith, Hinkley, jr.; Lamija Spahic, Overland, jr.; Jamie Stoner, Eaglecrest, sr.; Allurah Taylor, Gateway, sr.; Ashley Trotter, Hinkley, sr.; Shakia Wyatt-Williams, Aurora Central, sr.; Brynell Yount, Smoky Hill, jr.; Brooke Zimmerman, Smoky Hill, sr.