DENVER - Widefield's girls’ basketball team entered Thursday’s 4A semifinal game as the last remaining underdog in the state playoffs.
But unfortunately for the Gladiators, every Cinderella story has to come to an end.
No. 15 Widefield fell to No. 6 Evergreen in the girls’ 4A semifinal 48-32, as the Glads’ postseason spark fizzled out at the Denver Coliseum.
Widefield struggled from the start, shooting just 34 percent from the field in the first half. And as the Gladiators’ depth perception in the Coliseum continued to give them trouble, Evergreen found an edge.
And that edge’s name was Kristina Scheiber. The senior scored 11 points for the Cougars in the second half, and finished with a team-high 16 as Evergreen outscored Widefield 27-16 in the final 16 minutes.
Widefield got under Evergreen’s skin defensively in the first half, but a few late runs gave the Cougars a five-point lead heading into the break. From there, Widefield’s defense faltered and shots fell short.
“Coming in as an underdog we had to earn respect throughout the tournament,” Aaliyah Ricketts said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game but I appreciate our whole team for doing what we did. Unfortunately shots don’t fall every game, but we are definitely looking forward to next year.”
Widefield shot a mere 35 percent in the second half, and made just 14 of 21 free-throw attempts in the third and fourth quarters.
Widefield’s Charisse Fairley scored a game-high 17 points. Ricketts follows with nine for the Glads.
“This journey was pretty special,” said Widefield coach Jim Mason, who is retiring after 22 years at the helm. “The kids were excited to be here, but unfortunately we just didn’t perform well here today. Shooting here is always bizarre and you can see that.”
But despite an exit in the final four, Widefield’s run will still reign historic. At 21-7 the Gladiators had the program’s best season in over a decade, just one year after finishing .500.
“That’s something that the girls don’t understand right now,” Mason said. “Last year we were 12-12. That’s quite an improvement. What these girls did for our school and our community, and what they did for themselves. It’s not about me or my assistant coaches who are retiring as well. It’s about them and what they accomplished. This is their day.”