Grandview’s romp through Class 5A girls basketball in 2016-17 was historic.
The Wolves’ 61-32 blowout of Lakewood on Saturday night at the Denver Coliseum was their first title.
Better yet, where does it put them in state annals? With the terrific Boulder teams three decades ago? A good Chatfield in the late 1990s? The dominant Highlands Ranch, Regis Jesuit and ThunderRidge outfits over the past couple of decades?
No matter where they’re considered, the Wolves grabbed a lofty perch in state annals, finishing 27-1, winning every in-state game by double figures, most by lopsided scores, and not dropping a game to a Colorado foe.
Grandview also was supposed to win, what with the superlative Michaela Onyenwere leading a deep, talented returning core that was joined by high-end transfer Leilah Vigil from Highlands Ranch.
But the Wolves didn’t listen to any of it, coach Josh Ulitzky said, “I don’t know, we just tried to be the best we could be and we knew we would be in good shape.”
They were. Much like their season, the Wolves flew out to an early lead, kept it and built on it.
Of course, at the front was Onyenwere, the 5-foot-11 blur who will go down as one of the fastest players on record as well as one of its best. On this night, she finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and four assists. By halftime, she had matched Lakewood’s total of 21 points on with a peffect offensive performance of 8-of-8 shooting and 5-of-5 free throws.
For her career, she scored 2,265 points in 104 games, fourth-best on the state list and Grandview was 97-10.
“She’s a very special player,” Ulitzky said.
The UCLA-bound Onyenwere was on full display, notably grabbing a rebound, then racing down court – frequently through traffic – for a layup, and it happened repeatedly.
The first time was sweet for her, too.
“I don’t think we paid any attention to it; we did what we had to do,” she said of dealing with lofty expectations. “We didn’t really focus on the hype, the media or anything like that. We kept our heads.”
On leaving, she said “I didn’t want to cry, but I did. I’m just so glad of the support system we had … I’ve been waiting for this moment.”
Lakewood, which finally broke through this season to reach a final, ended 22-6 and was game, but bent and ultimately broke against the expected barrage from the Wolves. The Tigers had shooting woes, finishing 13-of-46 from the floor, 3-of-15 on 3-point attempts and made just 3-of-10 free throws.
Chalk a lot of it up to the Wolves’ defense and rebounding.
The Emsbo twins, Camilla and Kira, led the way. Camilla was the only Tiger to reach double figues in scoring with 20. Kira added eight.
Grandview offered more of a wave. In addition to Onyenwere, Lenzi Hudson added 10 points and Vigil eight.
The Wolves only lose three seniors.
“I’m really happy for the girls,” Ulitzky said.
Lakewood 9 12 9 2 – 32
Grandview 18 21 9 13 – 61
Lakewood – C. Emsbo 8 2-2 20, Barron-Nicoletti 0 0-0 0, Woodhead 0 0-1 0, Renstrom 1 0-0 2, Woodhouse 0 0-0 0, Carbone 0 0-0 0, K. Emsbo 3 1-7 8, Heayden 1 0-0 2, Trevizo 0 0-0 0, Sabala 0 0-0 0, Coleman 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 3-10 32.
Grandview – Brown 1 0-0 2, Galloway 3 0-0 6, Davis 2 1-2 5, Smith 0 0-0 0, Onyenwere 9 7-7 25, Brown 0 0-2 0, La. Hudson 0 0-0 0, Marlett 1 2-2 5, Le. Hudson 4 0-0 10, Vigil 4 0-2 8, Serrano 0 0-0 0, Kelly 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 10-15 61.
3-pt. goals – C. Emsbo 2, K. Emsbo; Le. Hudson 2, Marlett. Fouled out – None. Technicals – None.