Dakota Ridge trio enjoy final game

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By Brian Forbes

THORNTON — Jennelle Branting had the somewhat dubious distinction March 30 of being one of only two all-stars without a point at halftime of the annual Colorado Coaches of Girls Sports games.

“I knew I had to pick it up. I wasn’t doing so good,” Branting said.

Branting got on the board early in the second half and then nearly shocked the world when she took a pass on a breakaway, soared through the air and was prepared to throw down an epic slam.

“I was hoping to dunk,” the Dakota Ridge senior said, “but it didn’t happen.”

Smiling yet?

In the world’s friendliest basketball game between some of the best seniors in the state, Branting and teammates Lindsi Holm and Brooke Pendergraft helped the seven-girl Red team to a 97-91 victory over the Blue team at Horizon High School.

Branting was short of the stratosphere on her breakaway, which was set up by the hustle of Pendergraft. Pendergraft, who played in The Show at the Pepsi Center on March 29, shielded Chaparral’s Alyssa McGuinnis and slapped a loose ball to Davis, who snapped a pass to the streaking Branting for the dunk, er, layup.

There was some defense and a lot of scoring as both teams went for the run, gun and, well, fun.

“It’s a nice way to end, since it’s pretty much our last game,” Holm said. “We just went out there and had fun.”

Branting dished out a handful of assists and finished with six points and two rebounds. Holm scored 11 points and grabbed five boards, while Pendergraft had 14 points and four boards.

The trio of Eagles played alongside Alyssa Fressle and Jade Davis, who both won Class 5A state championships earlier this month with Highlands Ranch, along with D’Ambra Evans (ThunderRidge) and hometown girl Nikki Trujillo (Horizon).

Trujillo paced the balanced Red team with 19 points, Davis had 17, while Fressle and Evans scored 15 apiece. Fressle, who will play for the University of Colorado next season, also pulled down 12 rebounds.

The Blue squad got a game-high 25 points and 12 rebounds from Cherry Creek’s Rachel Roberson, 22 points and 10 boards from Central of Grand Junction’s Alaina Brennan, and 21 points and seven rebounds from Arvada West’s Rachael Ragland.

The game had its typical ebb and flow as both teams enjoyed three-basket leads. Roberson’s easy layup off a turnover tied the game 69-69 with 9:45 remaining. Branting’s layup with 4:57 remaining had the Red squad up 84-80 and that lead would grow to 94-82 on Evans’ 3-pointer with 3:28 left.

“Our team didn’t have any set plays or anything,” said Holm, who certainly wasn’t complaining.

And how about the short bench for both squads that meant a lot of up-and-down minutes on the court?

“I’m not in basketball shape,” Holm admitted. “It was rough, but it was a lot of fun.”

Pendergraft had two key 3-pointers in the first half and was the only abnormality at the free-throw line as she sank all four of her attempts. The Red team was 11-of-18 from the charity stripe, and the Blue was a frosty 7-of-18.

Dunk or no dunk, Branting was happy to be there playing with her teammates, even if it was farewell.

“For sure. We’ve grown up together and it’s fun to play one last game,” she said.

Red Team 46-51—97

Blue Team 42-49—91

Red Team: Alyssa Fressle (Highlands Ranch) 6 3-4 15, Jennelle Branting (Dakota Ridge) 2 2-4 6, D’Ambra Evans (ThunderRidge) 6 1-4 15, Brooke Pendergraft (Dakota Ridge) 4 4-4 14, Lindsi Holm (Dakota Ridge) 5 0-0 11, Nikki Trujillo (Horizon) 8 0-0 19, Jade Davis (Highlands Ranch) 6 1-2 17. Totals 47 11-18 97.

Blue Team: Stormye Everett (Overland) 4 0-1 8, Wendy Sherman (Air Academy) 0 0-0 0, Rachael Ragland (Arvada West) 8 2-4 21, Alaina Brennan (Central G.J.) 10 0-2 22, Rachel Roberson (Cherry Creek) 10 5-9 25, Kait Goodall (Lakewood) 5 0-2 11, Alyssa McGuinnis (Chaparral) 2 0-0 4. Totals 39 7-18 91.