ARVADA — A new year, but the same winning result for Arvada West’s girls basketball team on Jan. 4.
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In the Wildcats’ first game after Winter Break, A-West hammered Silver Creek 62-20 to improve its record to 8-1 on the season. It was the fourth straight win for A-West with its only a loss to undefeated D’Evelyn in the Jeffco Jungle Jam tournament championship game Dec. 10.
“I knew we would start a little slow,” A-West coach Brady Meeks said of the first game of 2023. “We missed a bunch of layup at the start, but I thought the girls fought through that and got back to A-West basketball.”
The Wildcats’ defense smothered Silver Creek (3-6 record) for the majority of the game. The Raptors were held to just one made field goal through the first half. A 3-pointer by Silver Creek senior Allie Hartman and the Raptors going 9-for-10 from the free-throw line accounted for all 12 first-half points for Silver Creek.
“I was proud of our defensive intensity for sure,” Coach Meeks said of holding the Raptors to just 20 points and five made field goal for the entire game.
A-West senior Ellie Pugliese shined on both ends of the court. The senior co-captain poured in a season-high 21 points, including several strong drives to the basket to go along with a trio of 3-pointers.
“We were saying in the locker room before the game that 2023 is the year to prove ourselves to everyone,” Pugliese said. “Everyone thinks we are an underdog, but we want to prove to teams that we can play.”
Pugliese and fellow senior co-captain Brooke Meeks started the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers to push A-West’s lead to 40-12. Pugliese made a pair of free throws early in the fourth quarter to go over 20 points for the first time this season before taking a seat on the bench.
“We have a lot of players who can score the basketball, but Ellie has been one of our offensive spark plugs this year,” Meeks said of Pugliese single-handedly outscoring Silver Creek. “It’s not surprising for her to get us going, but I’m even more impressed that she took three chargers tonight.”
According to Coach Meeks, she was top-15 in the nation last year in taking defensive charges.
Starters sophomores Sara Walker (8 points), Taylor Swanson (7 points), junior Malorie Byrne (2 points) and Meeks (8 points) gave the Wildcats plenty of balanced scoring. Sophomore Gigi Grieve came off the bench for 8 points, including a line-drive 3-pointer midway through the second quarter that brought the A-West bench to its feet.
“I’ve always believed that our program has had depth, but I believe this year we have a different type of depth,” Coach Meeks said. “We have scoring from multiple ways.”
Pugliese said that a few of the big goals for the Wildcats this season is 20 wins and going deep enough in the 6A state tournament to play in the state quarterfinals down at the Denver Coliseum.
“We have been wanting to go out on a strong note, especially our seniors,” Pugliese said. “We want to help everyone out and make everyone feel good about this team.”
Dennis Pleuss is the sports information director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.
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