Grand Valley girls hang on for 52-50 win over St. Mary’s, advance to 3A state final four
Clutch free throws down the stretch by Grand Valley senior Bailey Radel held off a 21-13 fourth-quarter charge by St. Mary’s on Thursday night, as the Lady Cardinals nabbed a 52-50 win to advance to the 3A state semifinals.
The No. 4 Cardinals now face top seed Platte Valley at 7 p.m. Friday for the right to play for a state championship on Saturday afternoon at the University of Denver’s Hamilton Gymnasium. The loser of that game will play for third place.
Up 28-17 at the half against St. Mary’s, the Cardinals survived two second-half scoring surges by the No. 12 Pirates, early in the third period and again late in the game. But the 3A Western Slope champs were up to the task.
“The girls kept their composure and really believed in themselves the whole game,” head Grand Valley coach Scott Parker said in a phone interview after the game. “Really, the body language wasn’t a lot different from the first quarter to the fourth. We were consistent, which is good to see at this stage.”
Both teams came into the quarterfinals with identical 20-4 records. Grand Valley led 11-9 after the first quarter, then opened it up in the second to take the 11-point lead at halftime behind Radel’s and junior AbbeyRose Parker’s 11 first-half points each.
Radel had three 3-pointers on the half, and the Cardinals out-rebounded the Pirates 13-8.
St. Mary’s came out hot to start the third quarter, scoring eight unanswered points to pull within three points, 28-25, before the Cardinals finally found the bottom of the net midway through the period on a shot by Radel.
Parker made it 33-25 on a shot while falling to the floor with 2:10, then drained one from beyond the 3-point arc at 1:40 to give the Cardinals a 36-25 lead.
Radel found the basket deep underneath near the end of the period, and the Cardinals again had a commanding lead, 38-25.
St. Mary’s pulled it back to 10, 39-29, going into the final frame, on the hot hand of senior Ellie Hartman, who led all scorers on the night with 26 points.
Grand Valley held the advantage throughout the fourth, but not without some nail-biting in the stands from the contingent of Parachute fans who are on hand in Denver to cheer on the Cardinals.
Holding a 44-37 lead with five minutes to play, Grand Valley saw the Pirates chip away bit by bit until that lead was down to one, 44-43, with 1:16 to play.
Then it was the Radel and Parker show from the free-throw line. Radel drained six straight free throws and was 8-for-8 on the night, and Parker made a pair of clutch free throws herself before missing two with a little over 3 seconds to play, giving St. Mary’s a chance to win it at the end.
After St. Mary’s successfully got the ball to half court and called a timeout, the game came down to an inbound to Hartman, who turned to shoot but was immediately face-to-face with Parker and the shot went nowhere.
Parker and Radel finished with 19 points apiece for the Cardinals, who are now 21-4.
“It was a great atmosphere, and just a great venue,” coach Parker said. “We had a lot of people in the crowd there, and really appreciate that support.”
Platte Valley, the defending 3A state champions and 51-29 winners over No. 8 Lamar Thursday, will be a big test Friday night for the Cardinals.
“We’re going to have to play well, but we’ve been playing well, so as long as we keep playing our game and play composed like we did tonight, it’s anyone’s game,” Parker said.
The only other Western Slope team at the state tournament, No. 10 Delta, lost to No. 2 University earlier in the day, 44-32. The other quarterfinal saw No. 3 The Vanguard School winning 39-35 over No. 11 Colorado Springs Christian.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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