Grand Junction girls top Boulder in playoffs

Over a fallen Ashley Kennedy of Boulder High School, Grand Junction’s Stephanie Drake makes a shot at the basket on the buzzer that ended the third period. The basket was good. The Tigers won their playoff game against the Panthers 45-44.

An ecstatic Paula Lage, center, hugs Fawn Brady as the Grand Junction High School’s girls basketball team races out on the floor with a 45-44 win.

When it came down to crunch time, Jamie Derrieux wasn’t scared.

With 27 seconds left and the Tigers trailing by one Wednesday night, the Grand Junction High School sophomore took a pass under the basket and scored for a 45-44 Class 5A first-round playoff win over Boulder.

“I wasn’t really thinking about it,” Derrieux said. “All of the girls on our team, we’re all really confident with what we can do. The ball was in my hands, so I knew I had to try and score, and that’s what I did.”

The Tigers took a 22-14 first-quarter lead behind early shots from Derrieux, Paula Lage and Fawn Brady, who hit two 3-pointers.

“The first quarter was important for us because we had to maintain some sort of position to be in to win that game,” Grand Junction coach Sam Provenza said.

From there, Boulder found its defense, allowing only 23 points the remainder of the game.

“Those girls played the hardest game I’ve ever seen them play,” said Boulder coach Sara Klippert, who was holding back tears after the loss.

“They did everything that I asked of them. They did everything I drew up and they gave Grand Junction a run for their money.”

In the second quarter, the Panthers rallied around junior forward Ashley Kennedy, who used her quickness to find open looks, finishing the quarter with six of Boulder’s 12 points.

Boulder’s defense allowed only eight points, narrowing the deficit to four going into the half.

“It was all about heart,” Kennedy said. “We wanted this and we knew if we wanted to get this win we had to come out and give it all we had.”

Throughout the first half, Junction was forced to change up its offense, with both Brady and Derrieux finishing the half with two fouls.

“We were trying to find a combination (of players) that would stay there for a while, but Boulder wouldn’t let us,” Provenza said.

In the second half, Boulder made up ground when Grand Junction went on a cold streak for the first 51⁄2 minutes of the third quarter.

In that time, Kennedy hit a shot and post player Ande Lampert added a basket and two free throws to give Boulder its first lead since the beginning of the game.

The Tigers rallied, scoring seven points in the final 21⁄2 minutes of the third quarter.

With 9.1 seconds left, Grand Junction got the ball to Stephanie Drake for a buzzer-beating layup and a 37-36 lead.

The teams matched each other shot for shot in the fourth quarter. Boulder took the lead with just more than five minutes to play until Derrieux’s game winner.

Derrieux finished with 19 points and Brady added 10.

Kennedy led Boulder with 18 points and Lampert had 15.

For the Tigers, it was a step forward from last year’s playoffs, when they lost 55-39 to Columbine in the first round.

“I’m just thrilled where we are right now,” Provenza said. “This was a big step for us, to get to this next game.

“We’re going to go to Denver and play Aurora Central with a lot of confidence.”


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