Last shot at state basketball title for Grand Valley senior AbbyRose Parker
The Final Four. Three words Grand Valley High School senior AbbeyRose Parker can never forget.
Last season was nearly perfect for the Cardinals. Twenty-one wins. Just six losses. Parker, averaging nearly 16 points a game, was pivotal in achieving this record.
Then, four straight playoff wins led to a heartbreaking 52-33 loss to Platte Valley. It was Colorado’s 3A Final Four, and the Broncos went on to win the entire thing.
Only thing was, the Cardinals were at the time equipped with eight sophomores, four seniors and two juniors — many of whom returned this season with a newfound experience to exploit.
“Building that confidence when they’re younger is important for the strength of us this year,” Parker said on Tuesday. “Losing put that fire for the offseason.”
The Cardinals ended the regular season this year with 14 wins and five losses. Thirteen of those 14 wins were against other 3A Western Slope teams. And having already beat Aspen by a staggering 73-8 margin on Tuesday in Districts, Grand Valley prepares for Gunnison (12-8, 8-6) in a second-round bout at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
Parker is once again navigating the adversarial path toward nabbing a state high school championship — her last chance in her career.
“That’s all I’ve ever wanted since I can remember,” she said. “We’ve had a really good offseason, and we’ve been working for that the last six months.”
Parker’s affinity to basketball began like most: at the local courts. Of course, Scott Parker — Grand Valley’s head coach — is also AbbeyRose’s father. But AbbeyRose was also the kid sister disciple to John and Sam Parker, two brothers who were once resident gym rats at Battlement Mesa Activities Center and put up numbers at Grand Valley attractive to any college scout.
“They’re the real reason why I’m competitive, and growing up competitive around them and watching them play in high school and middle school and at all these camps was just my inspiration,” AbbeyRose said of her brothers. “Seeing how far they got in basketball just drove me to get even further.”
Though it may seem inherent, progressing in basketball doesn’t come naturally, Scott said. It wasn’t just AbbeyRose competing with her brothers — it was constantly practicing with her brothers, too.
“When they were in high school, out shooting, Abbey would be right there with them,” Scott said. “She’s been playing this game since she was a little girl, and now she’s spent a lot of time on her game.”
Other Cardinals have, too. You’ve got players like junior Jaycee Pittman, nabbing a 29-point, 10-rebound, 10-steal triple double against Aspen on Tuesday and another 32 points and 12 rebounds against Roaring Fork the game before, constantly on fire.
“It’s extremely exciting,” Scott said. “I started thinking about this same time last year right after that Final Four game. Things are really coming together and we’ve had some kids really step up, and it’s been a really fun year.”
A lot of girls have stepped up — Pittman being one of them, AbbeyRose said. For herself, AbbeyRose right now leads the team with 20.8 average points and 3.4 assists per game.
AbbeyRose said facilitating assists is her favorite aspect of the game.
“Nikola Jokić said scoring makes one person happy, but getting assists makes two people happy,” she said. “I love running the fast break. Girls can’t dunk so when we get a good fast break, that’s just as cool I guess.”
Whatever happens over these next two weeks for the Grand Valley girls basketball team, it’s not going to be the last time AbbyRose Parker suits up in an official team uniform.
In November 2022, AbbeyRose committed to play Division III basketball for McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. The Grand Valley senior, right now boasting a 4.3 grade point average, intends to major in either secondary education or math.
Until then, AbbeyRose still has to play her final game of her high school career.
“I’ve been playing with this team for as long as I can remember — this group of girls — and my dad being my coach is something pretty special,” she said. “So it will be sad. But I’ll also be excited because I still get four more years.”
ADDITIONAL FRIDAY GAMES
5A Sweet 16
- Glenwood Springs girls host Green Mountain at 6 p.m.
- Glenwood Springs boys at Air Academy, 7 p.m.
3A Western Slope Districts, Grand Junction Central High School
- Grand Valley boys play Cedaredge at 6 p.m.
- Grand Valley girls play Gunnison at 4:30 p.m.
- Roaring Fork boys play Meeker at 3 p.m.
- North Fork girls play Olathe at 1:30 p.m.
*Winners play for the championship on Saturday.
The eight 3A District tournament champions earn an automatic bid to the 32-team 3A state tournament, as long as they rank in the top 16 per Colorado High School Activities Association metrics, and will host regional rounds next week. The remaining 24 teams in the tournament are determined by CHSAA seeding.
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