County Schools Notes: Windsor girls back at the Denver Coliseum, but this time not for volleyball | MyWindsorNow.com

County Schools Notes: Windsor girls back at the Denver Coliseum, but this time not for volleyball

Bobby Fernandez
bfernandez@greeleytribune.com

Coming into this school year, anyone who raised the expectation of some of Windsor's finest female athletes competing at the Denver Coliseum would have been met with reaffirming nods. Not a bit of doubt.

The Wizards have been to the Coliseum with regularity over the years. They've stepped on the court and delivered some perfectly placed assists and acrobatic blocks.

But this time around, rather than engineering their offense with well-timed kills, they will look to pile up points with silky smooth jumpers and feathery soft layups.

Windsor athletes have played in plenty of state volleyball tournaments at the Coliseum over the years. This week, though, they'll leave behind the Wilson volleyballs and bring the Spalding basketballs instead.

The fifth-seeded Wizards (20-6) will take on top-seeded Pueblo South (24-2) at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Denver Coliseum in the semifinals of the Class 4A Girls Basketball Championships.

Some of the players who will be in Windsor uniforms — sophomore Hollie Hoffman, sophomore Ally Kennis and senior Sam Greene — have played at the Coliseum before. Just never in basketball.

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The fact the Wizards are back at the Coliseum just four months after competing there in state volleyball is somewhat of a surprise in itself.

Even first-year head coach and longtime Windsor assistant Jim Porth admitted the Wizards weren't exactly a sure bet to get this far in the basketball playoffs, especially a season after graduating their explosive leading scorer, Amanda Ward.

"I think these kids are going to be pretty loose," Porth said Friday after his team's 56-43 win against Rifle in the quarterfinals. "We're going to work really hard, but they're running on a bit of a high. This is a big deal. I think in the beginning of the year we wanted to try to (get this far). But, now that we've done it and the way we've done it … the girls are feeling pretty good."

Windsor started the season 4-4 but has lost just twice since Dec. 22. It's on a six-game win streak heading into its first trip to the semifinals since 1996.

The Wizards are in pursuit of their second state title in program history, which would be their first since 1994.

Though each of the final teams were among the state's heavy-hitters by the end of the regular season, Windsor is the lowest seed among the final four. The Wizards are joined by Pueblo South, No. 2 Pueblo West (22-3) and No. 3 Evergreen (23-3).

By perhaps the most modest of margins, Windsor is likely also the biggest underdog, even if this is a final four in which any team is capable of being the last squad standing Saturday night.

Still, as elated as the Wizards are to be at the Denver Coliseum this week, junior forward Madi Denzel said when she and her teammates step on the court Thursday, they won't be happy just to be there.

"It feels like a dream right now, it's crazy, but we know we deserve to be there," she said. "Once you get to the Great Eight, everyone is good. And, once you get to the Final Four, they're even better. But, we're going to work hard in practice and we're going to prove that we deserve to be there."

Bobby Fernandez covers county schools sports for The Tribune. Reach him at (970) 392-4478, by email at bfernandez@greeleytribune.com or on Twitter @BobbyDFernandez. Listen to him at 11:35 a.m. each Tuesday and 6:35 p.m. each Wednesday on 1310 KFKA.

Around the county

» Jones back in maroon and gold: After just one year away, Chris Jones is back as the Windsor head football coach, the team announced via its Twitter account Saturday.

Jones resigned as the Wizards’ coach after the 2015 season to take a teaching position at Rocky Mountain High School, working closer to his Fort Collins home.

He won two state titles with Windsor, including in 2015. The Wizards went 81-29 during the nine seasons Jones spent as head coach.

» Huskies hunting a title: Besides the Windsor girls, two other Weld teams are still alive entering the final week of the basketball season.

The undefeated Highland boys (23-0) arguably have the best odds of bringing a state title back to Weld County on Saturday night.

The Huskies have outscored their opponents by an average of 69-39 this season; statistically their most successful season in program history.

Fifth-seeded Highland opens the eight-team Class 2A Boys Championships with a first-round game against fourth-seeded Akron (18-5) at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Budweiser Events Center.

The winner takes on No. 1 Sedgwick County (22-1) or No. 8 Sanford (16-7) in the semifinals at 8:30 p.m. Friday.

The Huskies played Akron early in the season, beating it 62-44 on Jan. 20 in Ault.

» Briggsdale banking on wins: Briggsdale will head to the Bank of Colorado on Thursday and Friday, with hopes of competing in the 1A girls title game Saturday at the Budweiser Events Center.

The Falcons (18-5), seeded fifth in the 1A Girls Basketball Championships, face No. 4 South Baca (19-3) in the first round, bright and early at 8:45 a.m. Thursday.

The winner takes on No. 1 Kit Carson (22-0) or No. 8 Nucla (14-9) at 4 p.m. Friday in the semifinals, also at Bank of Colorado Arena.

The championship game is set for 4 p.m. Saturday at the Budweiser Events Center, same site as the 2A title games.

Briggsdale was the state runner-up last year when it was actually seeded one spot lower than it is this year. Last year’s state champion, Idalia, didn’t qualify for state this year, making the Falcons arguably the most experienced team when it comes to deep state tournament runs.

South Baca placed fourth at state last year.

» Springing into action: Quietly, as the winter season wraps, spring sports have already begun.

Girls golf and girls tennis officially kicked off last week.

The first baseball, lacrosse (boys and girls) and girls soccer games, as well as the first boys swim meets and track meets, are allowed Thursday.

Read The Tribune next week for a full preview, and team-by-team capsules, of the spring season.

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