COLORADO SPRINGS – Pine Creek isn’t shy about its ambitions for this season. The girls basketball team has never advanced to the Denver Coliseum on a deep playoff run, although there is every intention that it will happen this year.

According to the coaching staff, it’s written all over the locker room and it’s talked about frequently through the course of practices and games.

This team has every bit of belief it can get there, but a little validation every now and then doesn’t hurt. The Eagles got a big dose of validation on Thursday night by getting a 45-41 win over Cherry Creek.

The Bruins walked into Pine Creek’s gym as the No. 3 team in the CHSAA Selection and Seeding Index and are regarded as a team that is more than capable of capturing the Class 6A state championship.

But the Eagles never backed down.

Despite trailing by as many as 11 in the second half, a run of baskets from Alli Dreessen and a clutch 3-pointer from Keelin Sills gave Pine Creek a 41-39 lead with two minutes remaining and they scrapped and fought every which way to hang on to that edge.

“I knew we were ok as long as it didn’t get to 12 or 13,” coach Janean Jubic said. “They got to 11 and I wondered if I should call timeout. But they were fine. We ended up just chipping away.”

A big piece of that was Cherry Creek going away from man-to-man defense and switching into a zone set for about a four-minute span.

The Eagles (6-3 overall) found Brooklyn Stewart in the high post and she found Dreessen on a quick cut for Pine Creek’s first field goal of the second half.

That’s how the dam broke. Sills hit her first 3-pointer of the game – and the first 3 for Pine Creek as a whole – shortly after the Cherry Creek lead started shrinking. The Eagles cut it to a two-point game at the end of the third quarter and despite a quick Cherry Creek run to start the fourth, the Eagles never lost faith.

“After our little hiccup on Tuesday [in a loss to Fort Collins] we talked about how Pine Creek has always stood on its defense,” Jubic said. “Our stable has always been playing strong man-to-man defense.”

(Dan Mohrmann/

Against a team like Creek, that can be a challenge. But it was accepted in a big way by sophomore Paige Murdock who had the task of locking down Cherry Creek guard Tianna Chambers. Murdoch didn’t score a point all night, but was mobbed by her teammates after she held Chambers to no points in the fourth quarter and four total points in the second half.

“It was really cool,” Murdoch said. “And it was fun beating Cherry Creek because they got us two times last year.”

It was a two-point game with under a minute to go when Sills came open after cutting underneath the basket. Stewart hit her in stride and she knocked down the 3-pointer that gave the Eagles their first lead since the second quarter.

“I didn’t know either of [my 3-pointers] were good,” Sills said. “I was so happy. My shot felt good all day.”

Stewart and Dreessen shared a team-high 12 points and Leekaya Burke-Perryman scored 11. Sills had eight, but the last 3-pointer turned out to be the game winner.

The season is still early an the Eagles are heading into winter break, but with expectations set high, this is a team that expects to be playing in the Denver Coliseum come March.

“That’s our goal,” Jubic said. “There are no ifs ands or buts about it. We want to be the [Great] 8. It’s never happened in Pine Creek history.”

(Dan Mohrmann/