Fri Jun 30th, 2023
Special to the Drum
Even after four decades as a high-school athletics coach at both the varsity and JV levels, Dave Shackelford was still sincerely surprised by the Colorado High School Coaches Association All-State Games teams’ long-range propensity.
“So many girls could shoot the three … but I wasn’t expecting that much!” said Colorado Springs Palmer’s longtime skipper. “But basketball’s funny; things get you on rolls, but they can also be bad things. One person’s down, the other four sometimes go with; one person picks you up, the other four on the floor come up … . But it was just continuous!”
But after being torched from beyond the arc Tuesday afternoon, June 13, in a 94-62 semifinals loss to ASG-White, ASG-Red – guided by Shackelford and Ignacio’s Trae Seibel – returned to CSU-Pueblo’s Massari Arena the next morning and, helped by 13 treys, saved third place by outgunning ASG-Blue 85-67.
“I wasn’t leaving here without a win!” a smiling Seibel said.
“It’s great for all the kids. That’s what we’re here for, because they’ve earned the right to be here,” stated Shackelford. “For some it’s their last games. Some will go on to play college basketball, some college softball, and some are just going to go be … smart in academics! So it’s not a normal game for us; it’s to make sure they get out, have fun and enjoy the experience.”
Hoping to atone for an 81-51 loss to ASG-Black in the second semi, Blue actually led Red 18-17 after one quarter, thanks to a free throw by Berthoud’s Katie Vierra with 0:08.3 left. But with Parachute Grand Valley’s AbbeyRose Parker, Montrose’s Bryar Moss, Simla’s Ryann Eurich and PHS’ Alyssa Trujillo each draining one triple during the second stanza, Red went into halftime up 37-30.
Sparked by seven points from Wiggins’ Raelyn Koenig, Blue battled throughout the third quarter, but Trujillo knocked down two threes to all but offset the opponent’s gains. Eurich, meanwhile, cleaned up a miss by IHS’ Harmony Reynolds to put Red up 56-46 with 2:21 remaining, then stepped back behind the arc to nail a three increasing Red’s lead to 61-49 at quarter’s end.
Passed the ball early in the fourth and final frame, Eurich canned another trey to make the score 66-53. Moss and Wray’s Larissa Salmans each connected once from downtown down the stretch, and Red went 5-of-6 from the free-throw line – nearly mirroring Blue’s 6-of-6 – as time became a factor.
With Red rolling, 77-59, an Elam rules ‘target’ of 85 – attainable by either side – was set following the quarter’s midway mark. Granada’s Trinidie Quintana soon put Red – minus GHS’ Kiana Herrera, who dislocated her right patella during the loss to White (but who still started against Blue before being quickly subbed out) – on the verge of victory, 83-61, with a 14-foot jumper in the lane, but Blue responded with triples by Koenig and Vierra and chipped the deficit down to 83-67. After drawing a foul against Greeley Dayspring Christian Academy’s Lily Beauvais, however, Parker coolly cashed two clinching charity tosses.
“You know, you need someone to ignite you sometimes and she did a great job,” said Shackelford. “But so did Ryann. I was kidding her because … I’d kind of done some homework to see what these kids’ stats were for the year, and Ryann averaged nine (points). So I looked up at the board and said, ‘Hey, one more point and you’ve reached your point total!’ Well, she ended up with 19 – that was good for her.”
Parker totaled 17 points in the win, Moss booked 14 and Salmans 11. Trujillo – who once sank 14 threes in a game, a la Seibel – and Rebecca Taylor (Denver D’Evelyn) each scored nine points, Quintana finished with four and Gina Gersabeck (D’Evelyn) two. Koenig tallied a Blue-best 16 in defeat, with Julesburg-based Sedgwick County’s Jensen Renquist (12) and Fort Collins Heritage Christian Academy’s Avery Hughes (10) joining her in double figures.
Reynolds, meanwhile, ended up scoreless but helped limit Blue posts Tess Johnson (Kit Carson), Macie Klem (Briggsdale) and Autumn Wingo (Buena Vista) to a combined 11 points. But Reynolds didn’t depart Colorado’s Steel City with nothing to show offensively; she went 3-of-7 from the foul line and totaled seven points against White, supporting high scorers Parker (19), Eurich (10) and Taylor (10).
“I liked Trae; now that I know him I’ll follow him a little more – follow the progress of Ignacio,” said Shackelford. “One of the first things I asked him, though, was about Louis Owens. I coached and taught in the same building – at Harrison High School – with Louis for years! So that was our first connection.”
“And (Seibel’s) really got a great mind,” he continued. “He’s got a lot of energy, he’s passionate about the game, so he’ll do some good stuff with what he’d told me about the kids he’s got coming back.”
“Me, I didn’t expect to be here. I’d retired after 40 years overall, 27 at Palmer, and … then I got a call and was asked if I’d be interested! I said, ‘Sure!’ Going out this way is just icing on the cake.”
Also representing the 2A/1A San Juan Basin League, Dove Creek’s Rylee Hickman and Lexi Gray were chosen to play in the tournament for Black. Coached by DCHS’ Julie Kibel and Louisville Monarch’s Mike Blakely, the two Lady Bulldogs helped Black edge White 79-74 in the subsequent first-place showdown. Hickman contributed ten points (eight during a wild fourth quarter won 29-24 by Black) and Gray two. Bound for Fort Lewis College, Monarch’s Natalie Guanella netted 11 points.
In the boys’ tourney, DCHS’ Kade Hankins scored four points as Red routed Black 115-80 in the third-place clash. 31 of Red’s points came during the fourth quarter, including Hankins’ two field goals (scored exactly 50 seconds apart), and Aurora Regis Jesuit’s TaRea Fulcher bulls-eyed a straightaway three to polish off the win.
Coaching Red were Fort Collins’ Bruce Dick and Ault Highland’s Pete Freeman.