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Down but not defeated: Eaton girls, Sterling boys 🏀 rally back for third-place finishes

A season that started way back in early December, the winter season is finally in the books. We'll ju
The Playbook
Down but not defeated: Eaton girls, Sterling boys 🏀 rally back for third-place finishes
By The Playbook • Issue #71 • View online
A season that started way back in early December, the winter season is finally in the books.
We’ll jump into the spring season in a big way later this week. But, today’s Playbook will provide one final issue dedicated to winter sports as we take a look at a pair of Patriot League teams that placed third in their respective basketball tournaments on Saturday at the University of Denver’s Hamilton Gym.

Sterling's Colton Shalla, left, gets a breakaway to the basket against Manual on Friday in the semifinals of the Class 3A Boys Basketball Championships at the University of Denver's Hamilton Gymnasium. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Sterling's Colton Shalla, left, gets a breakaway to the basket against Manual on Friday in the semifinals of the Class 3A Boys Basketball Championships at the University of Denver's Hamilton Gymnasium. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
The Lead
The Sterling Seniors
DENVER — It’s not very often you see a high school team with five seniors, much less five seniors who all start and are the leading scorers on the team… unless you are Sterling.
The Tigers have five bonafide scorers and each can carry the team when called upon. That’s what happened in their last ride together at the state tournament.
The five seniors finished third with a 72-37 win over Denver School of Science & Technology: Stapleton in the Class 3A Basketball Championships on Saturday at the University of Denver’s Hamilton Gymnasium. Four of the seniors scored double-digit points — Isaac Harris (14), Carter Keil (13), Jayson Frank (10) and Jace Pittman (10).
“A lot of time when you have seniors you don’t have them at the varsity level for long, but these guys have all been around playing the varsity level for three or four years,” Sterling coach Mike Holloway said. “We spend a lot of time together and have shared a lot of special memories, so I will just miss having them around every day.”
The Playbook caught up with all five of the seniors and Holloway to talk about their four years as Tigers basketball players. Here is what they had to say and the stories they told:
Sterling coach Mike Holloway and his five seniors
Sterling coach Mike Holloway and his five seniors
Colton Shalla
Shalla will be going to Northeastern Junior College in Sterling. He will play basketball there and is still not sure what he is going to study.
“I’m going to miss all these memories we have made with these seniors,” Shalla said, “also, mostly playing here at (University of Denver) for the state tournament.”
Isaac Harris
Harris will be going to Chadron State College in Chadron, Neb. He will play football and study exercise and sports science.
“As soon as I got in here as a freshman, everyone was just so welcoming,” Harris said. “Everyone is just so close together and makes it hard here at the end, but we are a family.”
Sterling's Carter Keil shoots a free throw against Manual on Friday in the semifinals of the Class 3A Boys Basketball Championships at the University of Denver's Hamilton Gymnasium. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Sterling's Carter Keil shoots a free throw against Manual on Friday in the semifinals of the Class 3A Boys Basketball Championships at the University of Denver's Hamilton Gymnasium. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Carter Keil
Keil will go to Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. He will play basketball and study construction management and architectural engineering.
“Coming to the state tournament every year with these guys, it’s special being in the locker room before the game getting to know them,” Keil said. “Also, taking it out on the court each night and battling together.”
Jace Pittman
Pittman has a couple of options for college and hasn’t made a final decision, but his first choice would be to go to the Air Force Academy. He will compete in track and field and study political science.
“The thing I have learned the most is persistence,” Pittman said. “It’s never quit and never give up even when you are down, you have to get back up and keep going because you are never going to win without.”
Sterling students work to get the adults in attendance to cheer their team against Manual on Friday in the semifinals of the Class 3A Boys Basketball Championships at the University of Denver's Hamilton Gymnasium. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Sterling students work to get the adults in attendance to cheer their team against Manual on Friday in the semifinals of the Class 3A Boys Basketball Championships at the University of Denver's Hamilton Gymnasium. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Jayson Frank
Frank will go to Concordia University in Seward, Neb. He will compete in track and field and also play for the basketball team. He will study Christian education and leadership.
“My favorite memory is spending all the time with these guys like traveling on the bus and hanging out with each other outside of school and growing closer to each other,” Frank said.
Funny stories
The players talked about their funniest stories about each other over the four years. The stories include coach Holloway going crazy in celebration after a win, dyeing mustaches jet black and trying to fix a broken door with toothpaste (watch the video above to hear about these stories).
Eaton's Bailie Duncan (2) gets a shot under the basket against St. Mary's on Friday in the semifinals of the Class 3A Girls Basketball Championships at the University of Denver's Hamilton Gymnasium. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Eaton's Bailie Duncan (2) gets a shot under the basket against St. Mary's on Friday in the semifinals of the Class 3A Girls Basketball Championships at the University of Denver's Hamilton Gymnasium. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
A new leader emerges; Eaton seniors go out in style with historic girls basketball season
DENVER — The Eaton girls basketball team ended its season with an exclamation point as the Reds defeated Pagosa Springs 49-47 to take third place in the Class 3A Girls Basketball Championships on Saturday at the University of Denver’s Hamilton Gymnasium.
Although they didn’t finish with the trophy they sought, they still exceeded expectations this season.
The Reds tied their best record in Eaton girls basketball history, going 25-2. Eaton was led by its four seniors and postseason standout, junior Addie Randel, who led the team with 12 points per game in the state tournament. She led or tied for the most points in all five of the state tournament games.
Eaton’s Kaleigh WIlliams, center, shoots against the St. Mary’s defense Friday in the semifinals of the Class 3A Girls Basketball Championships at the University of Denver's Hamilton Gymnasium. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Eaton’s Kaleigh WIlliams, center, shoots against the St. Mary’s defense Friday in the semifinals of the Class 3A Girls Basketball Championships at the University of Denver's Hamilton Gymnasium. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
“I just had more confidence,” Randel said. “You miss all the shots you don’t take. So, I just let it fly.”
This came as a surprise, because she was fourth in points per game in the regular season with six.
“If she can see what she can do on this stage, it will be big for her but also help settle the other girls down because we will have three new starters,” said Eaton coach Todd Hernandez, looking ahead to next season.
However, the undeniable leader of the Reds this season, senior Bailie Duncan, ran the offense. She distributed the ball while also scoring herself. She led the team this season in points per game (10.2) and stuffed the stat sheet, averaging three rebounds, two assists and two steals per game.
The other three seniors were a valuable presence, as well. Sydney Booth was the anchor in the paint. The 6-foot-3 center helped the team with rebounds and blocks, averaging 6 and 0.6, respectively. She was also second on the team in scoring 8.2 points per game.
Eaton coach Todd Hernandez, right, talks with Jennifer Jarnagin on Friday during the semifinals of the Class 3A Girls Basketball Championships at the University of Denver's Hamilton Gymnasium. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Eaton coach Todd Hernandez, right, talks with Jennifer Jarnagin on Friday during the semifinals of the Class 3A Girls Basketball Championships at the University of Denver's Hamilton Gymnasium. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Senior Michaela Hill was the pesky presence that was essential for the Reds’ high-pressure defense. She averaged two steals a game this season, second most on the team. Fellow senior Gracie Schreiber contributed, despite her modest minutes. She was a vocal leader on and off the court and was always encouraging her teammates.
“I thanked them for everything in the locker room,” Hernandez said. “They have been great. They do everything we ask. They always help the younger kids out by telling them what to do and what to expect.”
Hernandez said he is proud of the way his team fought and proved itself this season.
“We have a good group of girls coming back, and we have a good eighth-grade group coming in. So, there is going to be an opportunity if they work hard and put in the time to get back to (the final four),” Hernandez said. “Getting here and giving them the taste of it and to see what it’s like will hopefully drive them to get back here next year.”
Playbook Prime Performance
Girls
Quinn: Addie Randel. The Eaton junior has gotten a lot of publicity in this newsletter the past week and rightfully so, as she completely broke out in the state tournament. In the third-place game, she went 6 for 10, scoring a team-high 16 points.
Bobby: Korttney Potter. When we were putting the finishing touches on Saturday’s edition of The Playbook from the University of Denver’s Hamilton Gymnasium, we didn’t have the luxury of knowing yet what happened at the City of Greeley Championships track meet Friday. So, this may be an issue late, but clearly, Potter — a University junior — deserves to be commended for finishing first in the 100-meter hurdles, second in the 300 hurdles and third in pole vault.
Boys
Quinn: Isaac Harris. The Sterling senior was one of the better scorers at the state tournament for the Tigers, especially from behind the arc. In his final game in the orange-and-white uniform, he scored a team-high 14 points.
Bobby: Jack Myers. Again, my apologies for being about a day late to the party. But, like his teammate, Potter, Myers had a huge day at the City of Greeley Championships track meet Friday. The University sophomore placed first in the shot put and discus, winning both events quite comfortably.
The Patriot Best
Here is the best thing we saw from the week:
Quinn: Mine is definitely not the best thing I saw but it is by far the most bizarre thing I saw this week, sports or not.
Leading 17-13 with six minutes left in the first half, Manual held the ball near half-court waiting for Sterling to come out and play defense.
The Tigers were in a 2-3 zone, and coach Holloway kept them right where they were. So for 5 minutes and 30 seconds, the Manual guard held the ball near half-court and nothing happened.
The stalling game and the battle of the crowds
The stalling game and the battle of the crowds
The Sterling crowd was upset, and the Manual players were egging them on, which made it worse. Oddly enough, that was probably the loudest the gym was the entire game and nothing was happening on the court.
Manual's Jaedon Bowles hits a 3-pointer to end the first half.
Manual's Jaedon Bowles hits a 3-pointer to end the first half.
Finally, with 30 second left in the half, Manual got the ball to their star forward, Jaedon Bowles, who drilled a 3-pointer with a hand in his face to end the half. In the end, it worked out for Manual, not so much for Sterling.
Bobby: The best thing I saw was the pair of victorious efforts in Saturday’s third-place games by the Eaton girls and Sterling boys basketball teams.
It can’t be overstated how difficult it is to regroup, refocus and recompose for another basketball game fewer than 24 hours after having your hearts broken with losses in the semifinals of a state tournament.
But, even though their state championship hopes had been dashed, the Reds and Tigers came back to Hamilton Gymnasium, put forth spirited efforts and made sure their seniors went out in style.
Athletes of the Week
Vote on Twitter for your boy and girl Patriot League Athletes of the Week. The performances are from March 4-10.
Girls Athletes of the Week nominees
Addie Randel (Eaton basketball) — The versatile junior had 33 points, 11 rebounds and seven steals in three games in the final three rounds of the state tournament. Eaton went 2-1 in those games.
Bailie Duncan (Eaton basketball) — Randel’s senior teammate also filled up the stat sheets. She had 24 points, 14 rebounds and four assists in the Reds’ three state tournament games.
Anna Bedell (University track) — This University sophomore racked up a first-place finish in the long jump (13 feet, 7 inches) and a fourth-place finish in pole vault (5’) in the City of Greeley Championships on Friday.
Korttney Potter (University track) — Bedell’s junior teammate had a trio of top 3 finishes: first in the 100 hurdles (18.83 seconds), second in the 300 hurdles (55.44) and third in pole vault (6’). Bedell and Potter helped lead the Bulldogs to a team championship against their foes from mostly bigger schools.
Boys Athlete of the Week nominees
Carter Keil (Sterling basketball) — Keil capped off his senior season and his high school basketball career emphatically. He took charge for the Tigers in the state tournament, scoring 45 points in Sterling’s three games this past week. The Tigers went 2-1 and placed third in the talent-laden tournament.
Jackson Romero (Resurrection Christian junior) — Romero and his Cougars teammates played in just one game this past week, but Romero made it count. He scored 22 points and pulled down six rebounds against an imposing Manual frontcourt in Resurrection Christian’s 84-68 Round of 8 state tournament loss to the Thunderbolts on Thursday.
Jose Lopez (Platte Valley baseball) — Lopez began his sophomore season by showing some big-time power, hitting 3 for 3 with six RBI, two home runs and a double in an 11-0 win against Fort Lupton on Friday.
Jack Myers (University track) — Lopez wasn’t the only Patriot League sophomore to begin his season impressively this past week. Myers had first-place finishes in shot put (39’ 8.75") and discus (128’) at the City of Greeley Championships on Friday at District 6 Stadium. He helped lead the Bulldogs to a team championship.
Scoreboard
Saturday
Baseball
Weld Central 6, Estes Park 2
  • Key stat: The Bobcats pitching duo of senior Tucker Johnson and freshman Alec Throne combined to allow just three earned runs in six innings pitched.
Estes Park 8, Weld Central 6
Key stat: Estes Park senior Dennis Campos hit 2 for 4 with 3 RBI.
Friday
Track and Field
City of Greeley Championships — team standings
Boys — 1. University 205, 2. Northridge 115, 3. Greeley Central 88, 4. Greeley West 74, 5. Dayspring Christian 21.
Girls — 1. University 158, 2. Greeley West 141, 3. Greeley Central 91, 4. Northridge 72, 5. Dayspring Christian 23.
Coming up in Wednesday's edition of The Playbook
We’ll take a trip around the league with a spring sports preview, we’ll reveal who this past week’s Patriot League Athletes of the Week were and much, much more.
Thanks for reading!
Bobby Fernandez, The Playbook Publisher
Quinn Ritzdorf, The Playbook Reporter
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