Published: March 6, 2014
DENVER - Rampart's girls' basketball team boasted a young and talented roster during the 2013-14 season.
On Thursday, it played more like the former.
Junior Cassidy Budge and sophomore Nicea Eliely were held to 12 points apiece - while no one else had more than three points for the second-seeded Rams - as Michaela Onyenwere had 19 points and 13 rebounds to lead No. 1 Grandview to a comfortable 50-34 win in the 5A girls' quarterfinals at the Denver Coliseum.
"They knew I shouldn't have the ball," Budge said. "They made sure it was tough for me all game."
Rampart's leading scorer started off hot anyway with seven points in the first quarter but failed to do much else afterward - just like her teammates. And after scoring a career-high 30 points in Tuesday's round of 16, Budge, like her Rams teammates, were foiled by the bigger and more experienced Wolves (24-2), who contested shots and disrupted Rampart (20-6) passing lanes throughout the game.
"Grandview is a really, really great team. We just couldn't execute on the offensive end," said Rampart coach Megan Leatham, whose team averaged 61.5 points before Thursday's quarterfinals. "I think, with such a young roster, we might have got caught up in the moment a little too much and came out and played a little nervous."
No one could blame them. This season, the Rams won their first league championship in 24 years and made the state quarterfinals for the first time in at least that amount of time.
They were playing with house money. And after Rampart crushed seventh-seeded George Washington in the second round and then overmatched a Highlands Ranch powerhouse in Mountain Vista in the round of 16, it finally found its better at the state tournament.
Grandview, a semifinalist last season, looked like a team that knew how to get itself back to the Coors Events Center in Boulder.
"We just wanted to contest Rampart's 3s and keep the ball out of (Budge's) hands if possible," Wolves coach Josh Ulitzky said. "I thought they still did a great job, and they'll be a force in 5A for years to come."
The Rams cut the deficit to three points in the second quarter and six points early in the third quarter - both on Eliely jumpers - but Grandview's interior offense and defense was too much for the Rams to keep the game close. The Wolves outrebounded Rampart 39-24 and had 18 second-chance points to the Rams' two.
For youthful Rampart, Thursday was a learning experience. Budge, for one, said she won't forget it once next season comes around.
"This is definitely heartbreaking, but we'll be back here," she said. "We'll be even more ready next season."