DENVER – Ava Gavi knows when it’s time to turn on the heat. The junior guard knocked down a couple of big 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter and that’s when the Titans took control in their 62-35 win over Horizon in the Class 6A girls basketball Great 8.

“I was on the bench and my teammates kept telling me to keep shooting,” Gavi said. “We kept lifting each other up and we got those shots off. I wouldn’t have done that without our energy and our encouragement.”

That energy helped power the Titans in that final quarter and as a result, they’ll head to their first Final 4 in program history.

It was a bit of a slow start to the game, as is typical of the Denver Coliseum but both teams found a bit of a rhythm in the second quarter and maintained it through the end of the game.

Horizon kept the Legend lead at single digits at various points in the second half, but Gavi’s triples ignited a spurt that showed the scope of the Titans’ potential.

They lost to Valor Christian in the Sweet 16 of last year’s tournament and played in the Denver Coliseum for the first time as a group this year. They’ll get another goa round at it next week and will be more prepared for how to play in the venue next week.

“I’m glad we got going at the end there,” Gavi said. “Our next game, we’ll know what we’re used to here and we’ll know how to play.

Valor Christian 61, Rock Canyon 43

(Doug Ottewill/

After getting upset by Arapahoe in last year’s Great 8, Valor Christian took no chances. They built a big lead in the first half and fended off a scrappy Rock Canyon team to return the Final 4.

The Eagles last reached the state semifinals in 2022 where they lost to Grandview in the state title game. They had the No. 1 seed in last year’s state tournament, but a 62-54 win by Arapahoe ended a promising state championship opportunity.

But as they survive to next weekend, that opportunity is present in the future which is all that matters for Valor. Although, past demons can always serve a bit of a purpose.

“It’s good motivation,” Valor coach Jessika Caldwell said. “Feeling that way is not super fun and nobody wants to feel that way again. Having great leadership in that locker, they were able to explain how that felt and why we don’t want to feel that way.”

At next week’s Final 4, Valor faces the winner of Cherokee Trail and Mullen. The Eagles didn’t play either team during the regular season.

Camryn Gunter led all scorers with 18 points. Quinn VanSickle added 11 and Rylie Beers and Peyton Jones each had 10.

Alyssa Goode led the Jaguars with 13 points.