DENVER – As the old saying goes, “You have to dance with the girls that got you there.”

Riverdale Ridge sophomore Brihanna Crittendon was clearly the belle of the ball over the last two weeks of the Class 4A state tournament at the Denver Coliseum and Saturday evening was the crowning moment.

Despite the constant harassment — that included double and sometimes triple teams — from the defending champion Holy Family defense, Crittenden rose above it all and capped of a championship season with a 22 point and 16 rebound performance in a 50-43 win that sealed the first girls championship for the seven year old Thornton school.

“Everybody contributed, and Bri is a special talent, but the girls around her step up and support her and she supports them,” said Ravens coach Tim Jones, whose No. 3 seeded team finished the season 25-3. “That’s really what makes a good team. It’s good to have someone you can always count on and then you have those kids who grit and grind all day everyday and that’s what our girls do.”

Said Crittendon, who selfie and .5 game was on point in the post game locker room: “Our student section showed out and they supported us all season; plus it was an amazing coaching staff that supported us all year, you know those late nights and the blood, sweat and tears and we’ve all worked so hard for this moment so it means a lot.”

In what everybody knew was going to be a tight game, the smallest of momentum swings were going to be huge. For the Ravens, that tiny bit of separation came late in the first quarter. They were trailing 7-5 to the top-seeded Tigers and then proceeded to go on a 9-0 run — sparked by two Crittendon lay-ins, a Cimonie Martinez 3-pointer and a Brookyln Charlo jumper — to open up a 14-7 lead.

The champs were chasing from that point on.

The Riverdale lead was six points at the half and again after three quarters, but Jones knew the Tigers and legendary coach Ron Rossi’s girls weren’t going away.

“Rocket Rossi has been such a force in women’s basketball for so long, so you just never know,” Jones said. “He never backs down and he’s always got a play for every situation you could possibly fathom, even ones that don’t exist. So you have to be prepared and you don’t win until that buzzer goes off.”

In the final quarter, Holy Family cut the lead to 42-40 with 3:46 to play after Gracie Ward hit two clutch free throws. But that would be as close as the Tigers (25-3) would get. That final little run the Ravens so desperately need to clinch their title came at the most opportune time. An 8-0 burst led by Crittendon and Charlo took all the wind out of Holy Family’s comeback sails.

“I just understand that when there are three bodies on me, that two people are open and just getting those open opportunities is priceless,” said Crittendon, who got 11 from Charlo and 10 more from Martinez to balance the scoring. “And once the start knocking down those shots, you can’t guard both of us, so you have to pick or choose.

“I put my trust in all of my teammates and for them to step up in this big moment, they thrive on the pressure.”

It was a sad night in the other locker room for the Tigers. A tearful Rossi, whose coaching career spans 53 years from Lakewood to Holy Family, announced his retirement to his team.

“When I say all things must pass (to quote the Beatles), it’s all good things must pass,” said Rossi, who finishes his career with 599 victories between the Lakewood boys and Holy Family girls programs. “It was a good run at Holy Family… It was a good run.”

Ward led the Tigers with 11 points and Sawyer Dana, Jennifer Althsuler and Enyiah Contreraz each had seven.