The faces of the Arapahoe players leaving the court after the final buzzer reflected their disappointment in the season-ending loss 82-44 loss to Grandview in the Feb. 28 Sweet 16 Class 5A state girls basketball playoffs.
“I am proud of our girls. They played their hearts out because we wanted to keep playing. We had a game plan going into this game and the strategy worked for a while but it is tough to stay with them when they can pound in the lane,” Arapahoe coach Jerry Knafelc said after the game. “Our strategy was to use a platoon system to maintain a faster tempo. It worked for a while and we were 10 points behind at the end of the first quarter. But they used their athleticism and their height advantage to score a bunch of points to pull further ahead and we never were able to catch up.”
The Arapahoe and Grandview game was close in the opening minutes but, with the score tied 9-9 about midway through the first period, the Wolves scored the next eight points to pull ahead, led 22-12 going into the second quarter, built on the lead and went on to win the game, 82-44.
Arapahoe depended heavily on hitting outside shots all season but they had trouble finding the range against Grandview. Then, the Wolves' height advantage made it very tough to try to take the ball to the hoop. Grandview also used their height advantage to crash the boards, so Arapahoe usually only got one shot each time down the floor. The Wolves used the same height advantage on offense to pull down rebounds and score a lot of points on put-backs and second or third shots.
Coach Knafelc said there was no lack of effort as the girls ignored the score and played hard up to the final buzzer.
“The outside shot has been our best offensive weapon this year,” he said. “Tonight we played hard the entire game but we needed to hit more of our shots in order to match up well with Grandview.”
Senior Macy Zeigler said it was a tough, physical game against Grandview.
“We knew it would be a hard game because they are in our conference and we had already played them twice,” she said after the game. “Grandview is a very good team. They are insanely athletic, very quick and they play a very physical style. We knew what we faced and came into the game ready to give it all we had and play as hard as possible.”
She said basketball is almost like a family tradition and it is the only sport she plays. She said after graduation she will attend South Dakota School of Mines and play basketball for the Hardrockers.
The Feb. 28 game ended the 2016-17 girls basketball season for the Warriors and Knafelc said he expects Arapahoe to have a good team next year.
“We graduate five seniors and they will all be missed,” he said. “But we have a lot of kids coming back and all our lower-level teams played very well this season, so I think the future is bright for Arapahoe girls basketball.”