DENVER – The Lutheran girls basketball program boasts five state titles between Classes 2A and 3A in its history, including a most recent state championship in 2016.

That’s an impressive resume for any program. But this year’s Lions teams has a chance to add a third classification title to that resume.

On Friday at the Denver Coliseum, the No. 4-seeded Lions (23-3) won 54-36 over No. 12 Berthoud (15-11) in the 4A Great 8, advancing the Lions one step closer to a program-first championship in the 4A classification.

“We figured we were going to have to battle and we had an unbelievable schedule with a lot of 6A and 5A teams,” Lions head coach Josh Schneider said. “We were in our new league, the PPAC, and they’re all 5A teams – Palmer Ridge, Lewis-Palmer, Air Academy… and we were really battle tested all the way through. Hopefully that continues to pay off, knowing that it’s always tough at this point.”

Friday’s contest against a Berthoud team that last won a state title in 1993 was as tough as expected early on. The Lions even trailed 24-23 at halftime.

In the second half, however, the Lions clamped down at the defensive end to hold Berthoud to just five points in the third quarter and seven in the fourth to win by 18 points.

“We knew it was going to be a battle,” Schneider said. “That Berthoud team is scrappy. They come to play, they come to compete and they’re getting super hot at the right time. I believe we started pretty slow, but we just stuck to what got to where we were and tried to play really good defense and secure it defensively. Offensively, Raelyn Kelty started kind of going off for us, which is big.”

Lutheran senior Raelyn Kelty (15.2 ppg) scored 13 of her game-high 21 points in the second half. She shot 4 for 6 from the field in the second half.

Berthoud’s leading scorer, senior Reece Kraljic (9.9 ppg) and Anna Flaherty each scored eight points. Katie Vierra led the Spartans with nine points.

Resurrection Christian will face top-seeded Holy Family in the Final 4 next Thursday.


(1) Holy Family 55, (8) Delta 33

(Dan Mohrmann/

by Matt Meyer

It was a moment straight out of the classic basketball film Hoosiers.

In the days leading up to top-seeded Holy Family’s great eight matchup against No. 8 Delta, the Tigers took a field trip to the CU Events Center.

Coach Ron Rossi sauntered up to a basket and pulled out a tape measure – still 10 feet. The team even watched Hoosiers to further illustrate the point before their contest at the Denver Coliseum.

It took the Tigers a full half to settle in, but they ultimately found their offensive groove and defeated Delta 55-31.

“Lutheran struggled early, Riverdale struggled early, Devlyn struggled early,” Rossi said. “You have to learn how to play here and all my kids — I only had one kid who played here and that was during COVID times, which was a lot different. To learn how to play in this arena is different. It seems like it’s a lot more court, but it’s really the same court.”

It was scrappy, defensive and even a little ugly in the first half. Both teams settled into zone defenses and combined for 26 turnovers in the first half. But by the second half, the Tigers cleaned up many of their mistakes, using the renewed focus to stretch a six-point halftime lead to their double-digit win.

The turnaround materialized from the press, where a string of steals turned into wide-open layups on the other end. There was a six-possession stretch where the Panthers only barely crossed the midcourt line and that success snowballed into many things for the Tigers: more offensive rebounds, better half-court offense and a handful of chances off the break.

When Delta did break the press, Holy Family’s half-court zone locked down the paint, smothering any easy shot opportunities.

“[Delta] has won 17 games in a row,” Rossi said. “They’ve got a lot of confidence. That was a big factor first half. They really believed in themselves. Then we got a couple runs and it was hard for them to score. We hold teams right around that 30(-point) mark and that’s what we did here.”

Delta reached the Great 8 for the fifth consecutive year, albeit the first year without star post player Erika Kuta, who just finished her freshman season at Western Colorado State University. The Panthers were paced by Breezy Huff’s 11 points, while Taylor Somers had nine points. The pair each hit one 3-pointer, the only makes for Delta in 12 attempts.

Holy Family, meanwhile, was led by Essyence Contreraz, who had 11 points, seven assists and five steals. Fion Snashall added another seven steals and Julia Hodell picked off six passes.

“We decided instead of letting [Delta] catch it, we wanted to make them speed dribble,” Rossi said. “Once they started to speed dribble, it’s harder to make passes. Their vision is off and you’re able to get into the passing lanes and I thought that made a big difference.”

The Tigers advance to the Final 4, where they’ll take on No. 2 Lutheran. The Lions won the previous Jan. 30 meeting 43-31 in what Rossi said was “our worst game of the year.”

“We match up really well with them,” the coach said. “We have to take care of the ball better.”