Kame, Higgins propel Central into Class 5A Great 8
GOLDEN — Central High School girls basketball coach Todd Dixon had seen too many of the opposition’s prayers get answered against his Warriors this season.
So when a desperation 3-pointer banked in with about two and a half minutes remaining in Central’s Sweet 16 tilt against Arapahoe in the Class 5A girls basketball playoffs on Wednesday, there was little Dixon and his squad could do except shrug their collective shoulders and try to create their own breaks.
And, after nearly squandering what otherwise was an outstanding second-half effort, Central did just that. After a timeout to regroup, Central promptly scored the next six points to outlast its fellow Warriors from Arapahoe for a 70-63 victory at the Colorado School of Mines.
Third-seeded Central, which received an outstanding all-around effort from junior Amy Kame, will play top-seeded Horizon in the final of the Kay Garms region on Friday afternoon at the Denver Coliseum.
“They were down after that banked 3-pointer after they had been playing real hard,” Dixon said. “I looked at them and said, ‘Everybody smile and laugh, because that is kind of how our season has gone.’ Teams have really hit some miracle shots against us down the stretch.
“For us to not let that bother us, hold our composure, finish the game strong and hit our free throws ... gosh, we got blown out by 50 at this point last year in the Sweet 16. Our goal all year was to get to the Final Eight. We’re here, so everything from this point on is gravy.”
Kame finished with 31 points and 12 rebounds and had two clutch blocked shots in the second half. Kame also led Central (18-7) on a key run at the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth that established its lead.
Arapahoe led 37-35 at halftime and held a five-point edge midway through the third after Amy Barczuk hit the second of her two three-pointers. But Kame scored six points during a 10-2
Central run that closed the third, and Central also scored the first seven points of the fourth, highlighted by a 3-pointer from senior Karen Hayter, to take a 10-point lead with a little less than five minutes remaining.
Arapahoe (20-4) crawled to within two points on the banked 3 by Becky Bowen, but Central outscored Arapahoe 7-2 at the free-throw line during the final two minutes to ice the win.
“We talked about attacking the basket and that we needed to keep to our game plan,” said
Kame, who went 12 of 16 at the line. “We tried that stall and it kind of threw us off for a bit, but we played well down the stretch and finished well.”
Haleigh Higgins supported Kame’s all-around effort by hitting 6 of 8 shots and finishing with 17 points, and Hayter added 11. Barczuk led Arapahoe with 25 points, but managed only one field goal in the fourth quarter.
“(Kame) is a heck of a player and I think she is a little forgotten over here,” Dixon said. “When we needed some big buckets, she really dipped down and scored and finished at the basket and really carried the team. I’m very, very proud of her.”
Pat Rooney/Special to the Sentine