DENVER – In a battle of teams with perfect records there needed to be a differencemaker.

Enter Grace Minihane.

The senior poured in a game-high 22 points, powering Colorado Springs Christian to a resounding 59-32 victory over Peyton in the Class 3A state championship Saturday at the University of Denver’s Hamilton Gym.

“You don’t have time to waste on the basketball court,” said the 5-foot-11 Minihane, who had 16 of her points in the first half. “With this being my last game as a senior and my last game with my teammates, I think we really wanted to come out together and make a statement. It is crazy and amazing (to be back-to-back state champions). I will wake up (Sunday) and hopefully it will feel real because right now it doesn’t.”

CSCS capped its memorable season with a 27-0 record and won the 3A title for the second year in a row. Peyton saw its campaign end at 24-1.

“This feels great,” Lions coach Mark Engesser said. “The girls worked really hard and I’m very proud of them. Their defense all year was the difference. Our defense was just amazing.”

Engesser speaks the truth as his squad finished the final 10 minutes of the game on a 28-6 run.

The Lions roared from the opening tip taking a 12-5 lead after the first quarter, thanks to 11 points from Minihane. She picked up her second foul with 37.3 seconds in the first quarter on a charging call – but that didn’t slow her down.

Minihane converted a three-point play with a free throw making the score 17-5 in favor of the Lions at 7:18 of the second quarter.

Another Minihane bucket at 6:26 of the second stretched the lead to 19-5.

Peyton did cut the deficit to 22-12 with 3:32 until half but could get no closer as CSCS’ Rose Ross nailed a 3-pointer at the 1:48 mark to put the Lions up 25-12. When the halftime buzzer sounded, the Lions were in front 28-13.

The Panthers did show some spunk out of the locker room, getting within 28-18 after AJ Mannering countered with an old-fashion three-point play at 5:42 of the third.

(Dan Mohrmann/

Then, the Panthers started to make things really interesting when Mannering drilled a trey from the perimeter to cut the deficit to 30-21 with 4:22 left in the third.

The Panthers’ charge continued as Emme Ratliff sank a jumper in the lane to get Peyton within 31-23 3:38.

Then, Masyn Gregg’s 3-pointer left Peyton behind only 31-26 with 2:04 left in the third.

The Lions regrouped and when Minihane drained a jumper right before the third-quarter buzzer CSCS was up 37-26.

The freshman Ross made a driving layup with 6:12 remaining to put CSCS up 39-26. The run was 13-0 after Kinley Asp’s bucket, giving the Lions a comfortable 44-26 advantage at 4:43 of the fourth. Peyton had nothing left in its tank to counter.

Minihane, who was chosen the game’s Most Outstanding Player, was quick to credit her teammates.

“This game was nothing new, we know we have a great team,” Minihane said. “We have a great group of girls, that’s what makes us hard to stop.”

Asp and Jordyn Rollins had 12 and 11 points, respectively, in the Lions’ victory. Peyton’s Mannering had 21 points in defeat.

(Dan Mohrmann/