MONUMENT • As a freshman, Discovery Canyon senior Ashten Prechtel watched as the area’s premier post player — former Mesa Ridge standout Kylee Shook now at Louisville — earned an invite to the lofty McDonald’s All-American Game.
Prechtel, a freshman starting on varsity at the time, decided she’d aim for her own invite.
“I, like, made it my goal that I wanted to be that,” Prechtel said. “I mean, I didn’t really know if that was realistic or not.”
It became reality Jan. 24, when Thunder athletic director Ron Sukle dropped in on her weights class to deliver the news she accomplished that goal.
“It was a really good feeling,” Prechtel said. “I’m still like really excited about it.”
In Tuesday’s 48-36 win at Lewis-Palmer (7-13, 5-6 PPAC), the 6-foot-5 Stanford signee performed like a player deserving of the honor, setting a career high with 35 points for the Thunder (11-7, 7-4).
It marked the second consecutive game Prechtel posted a 30-point double-double.
“Pretty standard, honestly,” Discovery Canyon coach Heath Kirkham said. “That’s what you expect.”
The big game from Prechtel, who towered over her tallest opponent Tuesday, came as little surprise to Lewis-Palmer coach Kristy Youngpeter. Youngpeter already saw Prechtel put up 29 points and 19 rebounds against the Rangers in a Thunder win earlier this season.
“I think our team played better,” the Rangers coach said. “Ashten’s a great player. She’s tough to compete with.”
The Rangers held their own early. Prechtel scored four points in the opening quarter, and a Mia Darwood 3-pointer in the final seconds helped the Rangers close within one to start the second.
Prechtel got going early in the second, scoring on the Thunder’s first possession of the quarter and quickly added another bucket over a Lewis-Palmer double team. She went on to hit a 3-pointer, part of her 13-point quarter.
Lewis-Palmer used a 3-pointer, this one from Bridget Cassidy at the buzzer, to cut Discovery Canyon’s halftime lead to 24-20.
“I just think it was aggressiveness and the way the girls were playing five at a time, communicating on both offense and defense,” Youngpeter said of the first half .
Once Prechtel got going, there was little slowing her.
She added 11 more points on a series of post moves and putbacks in the third. She added two more buckets early in the fourth to surpass her previous high of 30 points.
It was part of a much better second half for the Thunder.
“We took our time, got the ball inside to Ashten,” Kirkham said. “Shoot it when we’re open, and she gets the offensive rebounds.”
Mackenzie Seitz added seven points for the Thunder.
Darwood and Cassidy led the Rangers with eight points.
Prechtel and the Thunder look to win the final three games of the regular season, which Kirkham believes would earn a home game to open the playoffs.
With the death of a teammate and no one else averaging more than seven points, it has been a tough year for the Thunder , but Prechtel wants to keep it going.
“Just to make it as far as we possibly can,” said Prechtel of her goals with the Thunder.
Regardless of how it ends, Prechtel will have one more game March 27 in Atlanta.
Not only will Prechtel be surrounded by the nation’s best, she’ll have a chance to connect with future Stanford teammates Fran Belibi, a Regis standout who’s gone viral with her ability to dunk, and Haley Jones, ESPN’s No. 1 national recruit from California.
“I’m super excited,” she said.