Find out how the Eaton girls and Sterling boys fared in state 🏀 semifinal games

Well, the final day of the winter sports season is upon us. Though a pair of Patriot League basketbal
The Playbook
Find out how the Eaton girls and Sterling boys fared in state 🏀 semifinal games
By The Playbook • Issue #70 • View online
Well, the final day of the winter sports season is upon us.
Though a pair of Patriot League basketball teams are playing on this final day, they may not be playing with as much at stake as they hoped.
The Eaton girls and Sterling boys both lost semifinals games Friday at the University of Denver’s Hamilton Gym. That’s the bad news.
The good news is, they’ll both play in third-place games today.
We’ll tell you all you need to know about Friday’s semifinals games and get you ready for today’s third-place games.

Sterling's Axel Henry, right, takes the ball to the hoop against Manual's Adontre Thompson, left, on Friday during the Class 3A Boys Basketball Championships semifinals at Hamilton Gym in Denver. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Sterling's Axel Henry, right, takes the ball to the hoop against Manual's Adontre Thompson, left, on Friday during the Class 3A Boys Basketball Championships semifinals at Hamilton Gym in Denver. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
The Lead
Three Takeaways — Class 3A Basketball Championships semifinals, Friday, University of Denver’s Hamilton Gym
Boys — No. 3 Manual 61, No. 2 Sterling 55
DENVER — The Manual-Sterling game was the epitome of styles clashing. City versus rural, athleticism versus discipline, driving versus shooting.
The hype behind this game was undeniable. The stands were packed — powder blue on one side, orange on the other.
Manual was looking for revenge after losing to Sterling 46-43 in the regular season, while Sterling was looking to surpass their disappointing semifinal loss from a year ago.
To say this game delivered would be an understatement. From the bizarre to the unbelievable, this game had it all.
In the end, Manual (23-3) had the last laugh winning an overtime thriller to move onto today’s Class 3A state title game against Vanguard (24-2) at 6 tonight.
As for Sterling, although it doesn’t reach its goal, it exceeded expectations as many people may have dismissed the Tigers since they lost their star senior, Bodie Hume, from a year ago. However, the entire season they played to prove they didn’t need a star to play on the big stage.
Manual's Jaedon Bowles hits a difficult 3-pointer to end the half during the Class 3A state basketball semifinals at DU.
Manual's Jaedon Bowles hits a difficult 3-pointer to end the half during the Class 3A state basketball semifinals at DU.
1. Jaedon Bowles is not human.
Manual’s 6-foot-6 star completely dominated the game. If the Thunderbolts needed a big-time bucket, Bowles delivered. The senior finished the night going 7-for-18 with 27 points and six rebounds including a couple important free throws.
And those 27 points didn’t come easy. Credit needs to be given to Sterling’s Colton Shalla, who played great defense all game on Bowles, but there’s not much you can do when a guy is knocking down 20-footers with a hand in his face.
“With a great player like that it’s hard to guard him when he is hitting shots like that especially when your hand is right there,” Shalla said.
The stalling game and the battle of the crowds
The stalling game and the battle of the crowds
2. High school basketball needs a shot clock. With six minutes left in the second quarter, the most bizarre thing happened. Manual, which was only up four, stalled. The Thunderbolts just held the ball. And what was even more strange, Sterling let them. For 5 minutes and 30 seconds there was no real action.
To pass time, the crowds started getting into it with each other. The game essentially moved from the court to the stands. Each side was competing to see who was loudest.
“We thought they might do that and we were okay with that,” Sterling coach Mike Holloway said. “If we go out and chase them, we are probably in trouble. So we were content with going into halftime down four.”
“I would love it,” Holloway said when asked about a shot clock. “Some states are doing that now, so hopefully we will get to that at some point.”
Sterling coach Mike Holloway talks to his team during a timeout against Manual on Friday during the Class 3A Boys Basketball Championships semifinals at Hamilton Gym in Denver. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Sterling coach Mike Holloway talks to his team during a timeout against Manual on Friday during the Class 3A Boys Basketball Championships semifinals at Hamilton Gym in Denver. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
3. Sterling couldn’t get a stop in overtime. To start overtime, Manual and Sterling traded baskets for about two minutes. However, any missed shot by the Tigers was critical because they couldn’t stop the Thunderbolts on the other end.
Manual finished with 15 points in a four-minute overtime. That was tied for the most it scored in any of the other eight-minute quarters. That’s right, the Thunderbolts scored 15 points, the same amount they did in the first quarter, in only half the time. A large part was thanks to Manual’s Jaden Stoffell who scored the majority of his 14 points in overtime.
“Bowles carried them throughout the game and then Stoffell played fantastic in overtime,” Holloway said. “It was back and forth, but they just made a few more plays than we did.”
Manual 61, Sterling 55, OT
MHS 15 5 14 12 15 — 61
SHS 11 2 15 18 9 — 55
MHS — (fgm, ft-fta, pts) Jaden Stoffell 6 0-0 14, Adontre Thompson 4 2-2 10, Davion Davis 3 0-1 6, Lonzel Smith 1 0-0 2, Terrance Tolliver 0 0-0 0, Phillip Williams 0 0-0 0, Jaedon Bowles 7 9-9 27, Jordan Reed 0 0-0 0, Mekhi McGee 1 0-0 2, Josef Young 0 0-0 0, Tank Davis 0 0-0 0, Gordon Bragg 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 11-14 61
SHS — Colton Shalla 3 2-2 8, Axel Henry 3 2-2 9, Tucker Myers 0 0-0 0, Ryan Wecker 0 0-0 0, Brock Shalla 0 1-2 1, Jackson Keil 0 0-0 0, Dylan Anderson 0 0-0 0, Isaac Harris 5 0-0 14, Carter Keil 6 6-6 18, Jayson Frank 1 0-0 2, Zach Busmente 0 0-0 0, Jace Pittman 1 1-2 3. Totals 19 12-14 55
3-point field goals — MHS 6 (Stoffell 2, Bowles 4); SHS 5 (Henry 1, Harris 4)
Total fouls — MHS 14; SHS 16 (Shalla and Frank fouled out)
Eaton's Bailie Duncan (2) gets a shot under the basket against St. Mary's on Friday at Hamilton Gym in Denver. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Eaton's Bailie Duncan (2) gets a shot under the basket against St. Mary's on Friday at Hamilton Gym in Denver. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Girls — No. 1 St. Mary’s 54, No. 5 Eaton 20
DENVER — The demoralized demeanors of the normally upbeat coach Todd Hernandez and his Eaton girls basketball players were almost as unrecognizable as the Reds’ performance on the court was Friday at the University of Denver’s Hamilton Gymnasium.
Meanwhile, no one would have confused their opponents, top-seeded St. Mary’s for anyone else.
The Pirates are the defending Class 3A state champs. They have a certain swagger and style all their own. And, they’re in class with few, perhaps only one other: Colorado Springs Christian School, their finals opponent tonight.
St. Mary’s assured a rematch of last year’s title game, topping fifth-seeded Eaton 54-20 in the semifinals of the 3A Girls Basketball Championships.
While, the Pirates (25-1) move on to another title game against CSCS (25-1), the Reds (24-2) try to regroup for a season finale third-place game against Pagosa Springs (22-3) at noon today at Hamilton Gym.
Eaton players express disappointment from the bench Friday, as they lost 54-20 to St. Mary's during the Class 3A Girls Basketball Championships semifinals in the Hamilton Gym in Denver. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Eaton players express disappointment from the bench Friday, as they lost 54-20 to St. Mary's during the Class 3A Girls Basketball Championships semifinals in the Hamilton Gym in Denver. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
1. St. Mary’s 2-3 zone defense — and some uncharacteristic misses on open shots — took Eaton out of a rhythm offensively.
The Pirates made it almost impossible for the Reds to attack the hoop, clogging the paint defensively with a highly active, swarming 2-3 zone.
That dominant defense allowed St. Mary’s to open up a 10-2 lead just more than four minutes into the game and a 19-4 advantage after the first quarter.
Even when the Reds found openings on midrange and perimeter jump shots, they couldn’t cash in. The Pirates kept Eaton completely out of rhythm.
“They were very active, and they made it difficult for us,” Eaton coach Todd Hernandez said. “We didn’t do ourselves any favors. We were a little nervous and didn’t perform like we’re used to.”
Junior Addie Randel (8 points) and senior Bailie Duncan (5 points) were the only two Reds players to score more than two points.
Eaton was 0 for 14 from 3-point range and shot 17.6 percent (7 for 42) overall.
Eaton’s Addie Randel, left, shoots against the defense of St. Mary’s Seneca Hackley on Friday during the Class 3A Girls Basketball Championships’ semifinals in the Hamilton Gym in Denver. The Reds fell, 54-20. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Eaton’s Addie Randel, left, shoots against the defense of St. Mary’s Seneca Hackley on Friday during the Class 3A Girls Basketball Championships’ semifinals in the Hamilton Gym in Denver. The Reds fell, 54-20. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
2. St Mary’s penetrate-and-kick game was lethal, as was its midrange game.
If the Pirates were merely a defensive-minded team, the Reds would have had a much better chance of staying in this game.
But, as well as St. Mary’s plays defense, it is arguably just as good offensively.
The Pirates’ offensive prowess starts with their nearly unstoppable dribble-penetration game, as junior ball-handling forward Brooklyn Valdez (3 assists) seemed to always find the open player in ideal position to score.
Often times, that ideal position was around the elbow, as 6-foot junior forward Catherine Cummings and company feasted on midrange jumpers, while also attacking the offensive glass for 14 second-chance points — compared to just two for Eaton.
“You kind of have to pick your poison,” Hernandez said. “If you try to play them straight-up man, they’re so quick and aggressive, they can go to the rim. If you go zone, they’ll penetrate, kick and knock down shots.”
Eaton’s Ahana Leffler (10) shoots against the St. Mary’s defense Friday during the Class 3A Girls Basketball Championships’ semifinals at Hamilton Gym in Denver. The Reds fell, 54-20. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Eaton’s Ahana Leffler (10) shoots against the St. Mary’s defense Friday during the Class 3A Girls Basketball Championships’ semifinals at Hamilton Gym in Denver. The Reds fell, 54-20. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
3. Despite this loss, the Reds have the chance to avenge their only other earlier loss and properly close what has been a special season.
Even though Eaton won’t be playing for a state title tonight, Duncan and the team’s other three seniors — Gracie Schreiber, Michaela Hill and Sydney Booth — still have the chance to finish their high school careers with a win on the final day of the winter season.
Such a win would be an appropriate finale for one of the finest seasons this decade for perennially contending Eaton.
This has been the Reds’ first trip to the final four since they were the state runner-up in 2012.
“It’s been an amazing season,” Duncan said. “I’m really thankful also we have the opportunity to go out and show who we really are (today). The game that we played (Friday), it wasn’t us. It wasn’t how we normally play.”
St. Mary’s 54, Eaton 20
EHS 4 6 3 7 — 20
SMHS 19 14 10 11 — 54
EHS — Addie Randel 3 2-2 8, Bailie Duncan 1 3-4 5, May Bruch 1 0-0 2, Ahana Leffler 1 0-0 2, Kaleigh Williams 1 0-0 2, Michaela Hill 0 1-2 1, Nakaiya Kuskie 0 0-0 0, Abi Wawrzyniak 0 0-0 0, Gracie Schreiber 0 0-0 0, Sydney Booth 0 0-0 0, Jennifer Jarnagin 0 0-0 0, Catelyn Adams 0 0-1 0. Totals 7 6-9 20
SMHS — Seneca Hackley 3 8-8 15, Josephine Howery 5 2-3 12, Catherine Cummings 6 0-1 12, Ellie Hartman 1 1-1 3, Mackenzie Pepper 1 0-0 3, Madison Bodette 1 0-0 2, Payton Kutz 0 2-4 2, Brooklyn Valdez 1 0-0 2, Rachel Wilcox 0 2-4 2, Paige Indovina 0 1-2 1, Elizabeth Rysvavy 0 0-0 0, Kayleigh Wallace 0 0-0 0, Kacey Barta 0 0-0 0. Totals FG FT-FTA TP
3-point field goals — EHS 0; SMHS 2 (Hackley, Pepper).
Total fouls — EHS 15 (Schreiber fouled out); SMHS 14.
Playbook Prime Performance
Boys
Quinn: Colton Shalla. The Sterling senior played fantastic defense on Jaedon Bowles. Most of those 27 points were with no breathing room and a hand in the face or from a different person guarding Bowles.
Bobby: Isaac Harris. Somewhat quietly, Harris has been a key leader all winter for the Sterling boys basketball team, even though Harris is better known for his performance in another sport (football). In the Tigers’ most important game of the season on Friday, Harris stepped up with a 14 points — second on the team only to Sterling’s consistent leading scorer Carter Keil.
Girls
Quinn: Eaton girls basketball team. I’m going to go with the entire Eaton team as a whole. Despite a poor performance Friday, it exceeded expectations and went further than most thought.
Bobby: I couldn’t agree with Quinn more. Within this Eaton team, I’ve been really impressed all postseason with junior Addie Randel. Randel has led the charge into today’s third-place game, and she is clearly looking like Eaton’s go-to leader heading into her senior season a year from now.
Patriot League Trivia
With the state basketball championship games occurring later today, we thought it would be appropriate for some state basketball trivia.
Question: Which Patriot League boys and girls teams have won the most state basketball championships? (Answer at the bottom of the newsletter)
Scoreboard
Friday
Baseball
Platte Valley 11, Fort Lupton 0, 5 inn.
Key performances: Jose Lopez had a smashing debut to his sophomore season for the Broncos, hitting 3 for 3 with two home runs, a double and six RBI. Junior pitcher David King was equally dominant on the mound, allowing just one hit, striking out 11 and walking none in five innings.
Coming up in Monday's edition of The Playbook
Find out how Eaton’s girls and Sterling’s boys fared in third-place state basketball games.
Thanks for reading! See you Monday!
Bobby Fernandez, The Playbook Publisher
Quinn Ritzdorf, The Playbook Reporter
Trivia answer: Boys — Eaton (5); Girls — Platte Valley (3)
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