LOVELAND — Two years ago, Holyoke girls’ basketball coach John Baumgartner had to tell his team that their State 2A semifinal game against Stanford — and the rest of the tournament State – had been canceled due to Covid-19.
On Saturday night, the Dragons got another shot against the Indians, this time in the state championship game. Withstanding a late Sanford rally, Holyoke got the result they hoped for two years ago.
In their second state title game, the Dragons captured the program’s first state championship with a 39-34 win at the Budweiser Events Center.
“The high is so inexplicable,” said Holyoke senior Lauren Herman. “It’s so awesome. That crowd support, that’s why we won that game. It’s indescribable right now. It’s an unforgettable moment. We’ve been dreaming about it since we were little kids. We’ve been working on this for four years and it’s just amazing and it means a lot to us right now.
Holyoke won it with long-range shooting and a stifling defense that held Stanford to fewer points than it had scored all season.
The Dragons made six 3-pointers, five in the first half alone. Stanford’s previous season low for points was 38. This came in an early season win over La Junta.
“My tradition at Holyoke is defense, defense, defense,” Baumgartner said. “Even though we have attacking players, it’s always defensive. We tried the early man then tried to go deeper with a zone and it worked. We just had to contain their shooters.
Despite a double-digit first-half lead, the Dragons found their lead in jeopardy late in the game. Twice in the fourth quarter, the Indians cut Holyoke’s lead to three points, the second time after a 3-pointer from Makenzie Reynolds made it 37-34 with one minute remaining.
Unable to do anything on the offensive end, the Indians had to foul and Herman hit a pair to make it a 5-point game in the dying seconds and that proved to be the difference.
“It’s an honor for our children,” Baumgartner said. “Our girls are just hanging on there. Even though the coach is going crazy there, the girls are just calm and it’s good to have seniors like that and youngsters stepping in and playing.
Holyoke got off to a good start in the first quarter. Elyce Talavera hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first period and the Dragons led 13-5.
After each team scored five points, Holyoke scored eight unanswered to end the quarter.
Holyoke continued their offense in the second quarter with Lauren Herman scoring all 10 points in the period for the Dragons on a trio of 3-pointers and a free throw.
“I struggled this weekend, but I was just like, let’s go.” Herman said. “It’s our last race. It’s hit or miss right now. We just have to let it go and be confident and that showed tonight.
By the end of the quarter, Holyoke had beaten Sanford 10-3 and the Dragons were leading 23-8 at halftime.
Despite a 15-point lead at the break, the Indians made a comeback in the third quarter. Trailing 26-10, Sanford scored eight straight points to cut Holyoke’s lead to 26-18.
By the end of the period, the Indians had outscored the Dragons 15-7 and cut Holyoke’s lead to seven points at 30-23 with eight minutes to go.
Holyoke then fended off Sanford’s late charge.
Herman led the Indians, who finished the season record 25-1, with 14 points. Elyce Viselmeyer and Talavera each had nine.
Brooklyn Reynolds and Cheyenne Caldon each had 10 for Sanford (25-2).
Game for third place
(4) Rye 56, (3) Lemon 55
Sydney Adamson hit the winner with just seconds left to give Rye a one-point victory and third place in the tournament.
The Thunderbolts (26-1) rebounded from an 11-point loss, their first of the season, to top-seeded Stanford in Friday’s semifinals.
Rye led by five, 37-32, early in the fourth quarter, but the Badgers made a late run and took a 55-54 lead as time ticked away before Sydney Adamson’s shot won the day. for the Thunderbolts.
Sydney and her sister Sophie finished an illustrious high school together by combining for 43 points. Sydney was 20 and Sophie was 23.
The first half went back and forth as Limon led 15-14 at the end of the first quarter and Rye led at halftime, 29-24.
Sydney Adamson had eight of his points in the first quarter while Sophioe had nine in the second period.
Limon (23-4) was led by Trista Marx. Jentri Marx added 18.