Published: March 4, 2014
The final stats will show only one point for Rampart's Kara Jones.
It won't show the one game-changing charge the junior took in the final minute of Tuesday's 5A round-of-16 playoff contest against No. 3 Mountain Vista that helped turn the tide and lift the No. 2 Rams to a 61-52 home victory Tuesday.
The Rams (20-5) next will meet No. 1 Grandview (22-2) in the 5A quarterfinals on Thursday in the Denver Coliseum.
With Rampart holding a 53-49 lead, Jones stepped in front of a driving Jordan Graff and received a blow that knocked her out of the game. After that, the Rams scored eight straight points, all at the free-throw line, where they enjoyed a 21-6 advantage.
"I just knew I had to stop her, so we wouldn't be up by only two points," Jones said. "It hurts a little, but we were all focused on playing as a team and not being selfish. We're all super excited to be advancing."
Cassidy Budge scored a career-high 30 points, Nicea Eliely added 19 and Megan Kavalec had 10, as Rampart overcame an early, six-point deficit and used a 12-2 run to start the fourth quarter to propel the Rams to their furthest journey as a 5A program.
Budge gave her team the lead for good on her first shot of the fourth quarter, a 3-pointer from the right wing that put the Rams up 37-36. By the time Eliely grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed Victoria Mondy free throw and put in a layup, Rampart had built a 46-38 advantage with 5:11 left.
"We finally realized that we can beat them, and we can be better than them," Eliely said. "We picked it up, and they crumbled."
The Rams then survived the torrid shooting of Golden Eagles sophomore guard Chelsea Pearson, who scored all 22 of her points in the second half, including six 3-pointers.
But none of her teammates could find that shooting touch, especially in the second half. While Pearson made eight of 11 shots, the other five Golden Eagles connected on only two of 16 attempts.
"We always have a bunch of heart," Pearson said. "The first half was kind of rough for me, then we came out in the second half and did everything we could to win. We just couldn't pull through in the end."
Mountain Vista jumped out to an early 8-2 lead, led by two 3-pointers and two free throws from senior Maddy Whetstone.
Eliely added seven points as Rampart rebounded, her short jumper tying the game at 12 with 32 seconds left in the first quarter.
Her layup ended a quick 7-0 run to start the second half, as Rampart frequently broke Mountain Vista's backcourt press and turned them into easy baskets.
"We've been preparing for Mountain Vista for a long time, and the key was our composure and stopping their transition. They pressed us, but you have to beat pressure with pressure."
Thursday's game time was slated to be announced Wednesday.