Updated: March 14, 2014 at 9:29 am
BOULDER - Even with sophomore sensation Kylee Shook and senior leader Gabby Purnell on the roster, Mesa Ridge's girls' basketball team made sure the ball never went through one single player this season.
And in the closing seconds, on what appeared to be the season, the ball needed to go through four Grizzlies players to pull off the Mesa Ridge Miracle on Thursday.
With five seconds remaining, Shook made the game-saving block on the defensive end before Samantha Rudd grabbed the deflection and sent it to Purnell, who raced it to midcourt.
In the midst of heavy contact, however, a stumbling Purnell tipped it to Tiffani Jackson, who ousted defending champion Pueblo South (24-3) with her buzzer-beating layup to make it a 40-38 victory at the Coors Events Center.
In the process, she etched the No. 1 Grizzlies (27-0) into the 4A state title game against tournament-favorite No. 1 Broomfield.
"I knew the shot at the end would be close, but I honestly thought I had two or three seconds left," said Jackson, who thought there were 10 seconds left when Mesa Ridge got the ball on its final possession. "But, hey, I'm completely fine with how it turned out."
Purnell led Mesa Ridge with 12 points, while Rudd added 11 points and 10 rebounds and Jackson scored 10. Shook, meanwhile, admitted feeling nerves on center stage at one of her potential college landing spots, and finished with only two points and nine rebounds.
The biggest stat of the game though, according to Mesa Ridge coach Jeff Beatty, was Pueblo South Shannon Patterson's 14 points.
"I told the girls if we hold her to under 15 points we'd have a great chance to win," said Beatty, whose team gave up 17 to Patterson in last year's quarterfinals loss. "I thought, for the most part, we did a pretty good job against her."
It almost wasn't enough.
It was all knotted up when Patterson had the ball atop the key with 12 seconds remaining. With six points in the quarter (all from the free-throw line), Patterson actually chose against driving the lane in favor of a five-foot shot for Sissy Hall.
Shook made the block though, and Rudd and Purnell did enough to get it to Jackson who stretched down the right side of the court and skipped in the Grizzlies' 27th consecutive win.
"There are no words," Jackson said. "I'm speechless."