LITTLETON — Valor Christian’s girls basketball team continued its remarkable conference winning streak Jan. 17, but it wasn’t easy.
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Columbine senior Araya Ogden scored a driving layup with 3:25 left in the fourth quarter to cut Valor’s lead to 57-55. However, the Eagles — No. 1 in the CHSAANow.com Class 6A rankings — went on an 11-0 run in the final minutes to snag a 68-55 road victory.
“It was a really good reminder for us that there are things that we need to go back and continue to work on,” Valor coach Jessika Caldwell said. “Give credit to Columbine. They had a great game plan and they finished everything around the basket and we did not.”
It was Valor’s 34th straight conference win since the Eagles (13-1, 3-0 in 6A Jeffco) moved up to the largest classification to start the 2018-19 season.
Valor hasn’t lost a league game since a 4A Jeffco League loss to Evergreen back on Feb. 13, 2018. Since that loss not only has the Eagles been perfect in conference play, but they won the 5A state title in 2021 and were the state runner-up last season.
“It means a lot,” Valor senior and Macey Huard said of the undefeated streak and four straight Jeffco League titles since the Eagles moved up to the largest classification. “We don’t feel the pressure of it, but we put a lot of work in to prepare for each game. To go out and have a close game is a little stressful.”
Huard — University of Montana commit — finished with a game-high 29 points. Her biggest basket came late in the four quarter. A 3-pointer in front of the Eagles’ bench pushed Valor’s lead to 63-55 with 1:35 to play.
“Quinn (VanSickle) is a great passer. When she drove I knew she was going to kick it back out to me,” Huard said of the huge 3-pointer in the final minutes. “I knew we needed that one.”
Huard finished the game with a steal and layup just before the buzzer to win another Jeffco League game. VanSickle finished with 13 points and sophomore Rylie Beers had a nice game off the bench for the Eagles with 9 points.
“We just had to bring grit into that last quarter,” Huard said. “We were all tired. We just had to bring all the competitiveness we had left in us and toughness to make it through.”
Columbine (6-10, 1-2) never led in the game, but they hung tough against a Valor squad who hasn’t lost to an in-state program this season.
“Our whole focus coming into this game was us,” Columbine coach Greg Bolding Jr. said. “We knew we had a big task ahead, but we didn’t focus on them. We wanted to clean up the mistakes we’ve been making.”
The Rebels handled Valor’s full-court pressure for most of the game. Columbine junior Emily Allison led the way with 24 points, including buzzer beater to end the first half.
“She (Allison) has been our rock for our team,” Bolding said. “She has kind of carried our team on and off the court. Her leadership has been unbelievable.”
Ogden — the pitcher on Columbine’s softball state championship team this past Fall — scored 10 points as the Rebels gave the No. 1 ranked team in the state a good early league test.
“I don’t think this is a moral victory. It’s an opportunity for us to say we are better than our record it,” Bolding said. “We have a big task ahead of us on Friday. Hopefully we can build off of this game and have some success against Chatfield.”
Chatfield handed Columbine a 53-48 loss to end the week.
Valor took sole possession of first place in 6A Jeffco on Jan. 20. The Eagles defeated No. 8 Ralston Valley 54-30 on the road. The Mustangs (10-4, 2-1) are actually lead by the coach that handed Caldwell her last league loss nearly five years ago.
Amy Bahl is in her first year at Ralston Valley, back in the prep ranks after taking some time away from high school coaching.
“I’m so glad she is back coaching again,” Caldwell said of Bahl. “It’s so fun to have another female presence and another mom. We share a lot of similarities having three kids and both of us having played (college) at a high level.”
Caldwell and Bahl also share having won state multiple state championships as coaches. Caldwell has three with Valor winning 4A titles in 2015 and 2016 to go along with Valor’s 5A title in 2021. Bahl won her back-to-back 4A titles with Evergreen in 2017 and 2018.
Dennis Pleuss is the sports information director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.
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