Grand Valley High School graduates are taking their game to college |

Grand Valley High School graduates are taking their game to college

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

PARACHUTE, Colorado ” They joined forces for just one high school season, and what a season it was.

With their senior leadership paving the way to success, Kendall Babler and Whitney Ashcraft were big reasons why Grand Valley finished as the Class 2A girls basketball runner-up during the 2007-08 season.

Now, each is taking her game ” which differs tremendously; one’s a speedy point guard and the other a tall inside presence ” to the collegiate level.

Babler, a 5-foot-6 point guard who transferred to the Parachute school after spending her first three years of high school at Rifle, is bound for Division II Colorado State University-Pueblo.

Ashcraft, a 5-foot-10 forward, is headed to Ottawa University, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school in Kansas.

Both received partial scholarships and both opted for small-town scholastic environments, similar to what they experienced as preps.

“I’m kind of a small-town girl,” Ashcraft said. “I didn’t really want to go to a real big college.”

And both are going to schools that employ a quick-paced style of play, much like their high school Cardinals did in their run at a title.

“[Ottawa] plays almost exactly like we do,” Ashcraft noted. “They play in-your-face defense and run the ball, and I like that a lot. I’m used to it.”

Babler, who averaged 16.8 points and more than nine assists a game for Grand Valley through her senior campaign, had similar words for her new squad.

“I played with them at tryouts and they seem to play the same fast-paced, get-the-ball-up-the-floor type thing as we did,” she said.

Playing in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Babler will have the chance to lace up against many a familiar face with a number of former Western Slope League foes scattered throughout the circuit.

This year’s RMAC-bound WSL signees include Glenwood Springs’ Sharaya Selsor (Metro State) and Kelsie Hert (Colorado Christian) and Moffat County’s Markie Workman (Adams State) and Angie Charchalis (Colorado School of the Mines).

Both Babler and Ashcraft have been eyeing collegiate careers for some time, and Grand Valley’s 2007-08 success opened some big doors for the duo, who provided the Cardinals with an inside-outside threat that helped the team to a 19-5 overall record and to within a single point of the state title.

Both Cardinals list that magical mid-March run at a championship atop their list of prep highlights. In the eight-team state tournament, Grand Valley knocked off Holyoke and upset Rocky Ford to make what proved to be an uber-dramatic final against Wray. In the end, Wray claimed the crown with a 48-47 win but the gritty Cardinals advanced far deeper into the playoffs than most anyone anticipated.

It was a nearly perfect way to end a high school career.

“It would have been nice to have been state champions,” Ashcraft conceded, “but the team was great. We all had a lot of fun together and got along great. You can’t beat state. It was an amazing feeling playing in front of all those people. There were 60 2A teams and we were one of the last two. I’m still getting over it, kind of. I’ve accepted it.”

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