DENVER – After a 20-0 run for the Regis Jesuit girls basketball team to start the fourth quarter that erased three quarters worth of double-digit deficits and an improbable counterpunch by Legend, the Raiders’ playoff hopes hinged on a sophomore who up until that point was scoreless.

Izzy Davies was fouled while attempting a breakaway layup with three tenths of a second to go and banked in her first free throw amid screaming fans at the Denver Coliseum to send No. 7 Regis Jesuit to a 54-53 upset of No. 3 Legend and earn a spot in the Class 6A state championship game.

“I’ve never seen that,” Raiders coach Jordan Kasemodel said of the 20-point swing that spanned 5 minutes, 25 seconds. “We’ve preached resiliency, we’ve preached grit, not giving up and never wasting a minute. We’ve been about that attitude this entire week and at times I had to call them out on body language, things like that. But when we said, ‘Let’s go; it’s now or never,’ we just turned it on. It’s kudos to the senior and kudos to all those defensive stops.

“We found a rotation that worked, we stuck with it, and it came down to end-of-game situations. Do we practice turning it over and giving up a 5-0 run to tie it? No. But I’m proud of how we fought and I’m proud of Izzy Davies for hitting that free throw at the end.”

The coach’s voice was essentially lost after cheering on her team, but the fourth-quarter rally was spurred by a defensive intensity. The Raiders forced nine turnovers with seven steals in the final eight minutes despite forcing just six turnovers in the first three periods.

It was further aided by Hana Belibi’s scoring and Coryn Watts’ work in transition. After starting the evening with cold shooting, Belibi knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line to push her point total to a game-high 21 points. Watts surged for eight of her 15 points in the final frame, six of which we scored on fastbreak layups. Watts was also the team leader in steals, finishing with four.

The Titans were in control throughout the first half, maintaining a consistently better field goal percentage, significantly better 3-point percentage and a sizeable advantage on the offensive boards. But it wasn’t until Ava Gavi stroked in a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer that Legend secured a double-digit lead.

The Titans mostly maintained their edge through the third quarter on inside scoring and second-chance points, before the Raiders completed the comeback in the fourth.

Mason Borcherding paced Legend with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Katie Lamb chipped in 10 points.

Valor Christian 71, Legend 59

(Doug Ottewill/

Quinn VanSickle calls the quiet confidence of the Valor Christian girls basketball team “operating from a place of abundance.”

After a turbulent first half Thursday against top-seeded Cherokee Trail that saw the Eagles’ early lead erased, then seven lead changes or ties in the second quarter, it was a second-half surge from the junior guard that lifted the Eagles to a 71-59 victory and secured a spot in the state championship game.

“We know what to do,” VanSickle said. “We’ve been preparing for this all season. Our intensity changes, but we’re operating from a place of abundance and that’s where we live all the time. We’re blessed to be where we are and we have one more to go.”

VanSickle finished with a season-high 33 points, scoring 13 in the third quarter and 22 in the second half. She knocked down five 3-pointers and made 10 of 11 free throws. She’s fielded scholarship offers from colleges like Utah State University, Marquette, Pepperdine, Wichita State and more, but Valor Christian coach Jessika Caldwell said her star player’s intensity starts with her work ethic.

“So much of what makes her special is how much time she puts in at the gym. She wasn’t super happy with her performance last week against Rock Canyon,” the coach said, referencing VanSickle’s 11 points on 2-of-17 shooting as the Eagles won 60-44. “The next day, she was in the gym shooting. That time, energy and effort she puts in to hone her craft gives her the confidence to show up in those big moments.”

Beyond VanSickle’s huge evening, Peyton Jones dropped in 13 points with a pair of 3-pointers. Rylie Beers, consistently the team’s third scoring option this season, had to be helped off the court with an apparent lower-leg injury. Caldwell said the junior’s injury will be assessed and “we may have to go back to the drawing board with some things.”

Valor built an early lead despite a lopsided start on the offensive glass. Cherokee Trail was only able to convert five offensive rebounds into four second-chance points and trailed 13-10 at the first break.

It was only 40 seconds later that the Cougars took their first lead, a 14-13 edge that was quickly erased by a 3-pointer from Jones, setting of a back-and-forth battle that would last into the fourth quarter.

Delainey Miller led the Cougars with 21 points and Damara Allen added 18 points.