COLORADO SPRINGS – Members of the Rock Canyon girls basketball team have only been in the Denver Coliseum to watch others play.

Now they get to walk into the players’ entrance.

The Jaguars survived an offensive onslaught from Brooklyn Stewart and fought their way to a 52-45 to reach the Class 6A girls basketball Great 8.

Next up is the tough task of facing coach Eric Bartoszek’s old boss: Valor Christian’s Jessika Caldwell.

“It’s going to be a reunion,” he said.

But that’s a tomorrow problem at the earliest. The Jags (20-5 overall) put together a solid team win over arguably the best Pine Creek team in program history. It was very much a team effort as Brooke Harding scored a team-high 16 points, eight of which came in the first quarter. Her other eight came in the third after the Eagles (21-4) took a two-point lead at halftime.

“We had to dig deep,” Bartoszek said. “We have a motto in our program and it’s don’t work hard for nothing. Whether it’s one possession, one practice, one game. Don’t work hard for the last two years to get nothing out of your season right now.”

The Jags snatched momentum with a a couple of 3-pointers from Sarah Davis and then a run of buckets from Harding. They scored 10 of the team’s 17 points in the third quarter.

Even on the road, it was a huge momentum shift.

“I knew I had to start making some shots,” Davis said. “I knew I had the space to make them the whole game. But I was scared [in the first half], to be honest. I was scared to mess up. But I got support from Brooke, I got support from my coaches. They believe in my shooting ability and told me to just let it fly.”

The offense was only half the equation.

(Dan Mohrmann/

In all her scouting, Pine Creek coach Janean Jubic had seen very little of a 1-3-1 defense from Rock Canyon, but she saw a lot of it over the 32 minutes of game time.

There was no denying that Stewart would get her points – and she did, scoring a game-high 25 – so the goal was to limit the support she would get from Leekaya Burke-Perryman and Alli Dressen, who both average double figures.

Burke-Perryman finished the night with 11, but Dreesen only scored three, all in the second quarter.

“[Brooklyn] was going to get hers, but they had two other prolific scorers and I wanted to make sure they didn’t get their’s,” Batoszek said. “We talked about it. Brooke gets 25 but we contained the other two and we worked from the beginning at trapping her all the time.”

The plan paid off and now the Jags head to the Denver Coliseum to play meaningful basketball in March.

“It was our, to get the Coliseum,” Harding said. “Not only that, but to prove people wrong. We’re not the team that everyone thinks we are. That we’re coming up and we have something to prove.”

There’s no better chance to prove something than against a Valor Christian program that often makes its way to the final weekend of the basketball season. A win against the Eagles, and an underdog Jaguars roster is that much closer to reaching a state title game for the first time in program history.

(Dan Mohrmann/