DENVER - Even though it was a cold snowy night Laura Tyree was on fire.
In the biggest game of her life the D’Evelyn senior played bigger than any player on the floor — even though she is one of the smallest on the court.
The Tyree-takeover occurred at just the right time in the second half of No. 1 D’Evelyn’s 61-50 victory over No. 2 Sand Creek in the Great 8 of the 4A Colorado High School State Tournament Saturday at the Denver Coliseum.
The two teams traded punches in the first half with neither team leading by more than three points. That was until Tyree decided to take matters into her own hands.
Tyree scored 19 of her 27 points in the second half, helping lead D’Evelyn to 20 points in both the third and fourth quarter, after the Jaguars scored only 21 points in the first half.
“We just couldn’t get our offense going in the first half so we used our defense in the second half to help get us going offensively,” Tyree said. “Then once we got it going we were hard to stop.”
But it was the style in which Tyree scored her 27 points that was so impressive. Working against Sand Creek’s best defender all night Tyree worked as though she was playing against no defender at all.
Tyree, the team’s only senior, scored from all over the floor; hitting midrange jump shots in defender’s faces and driving the ball to the basket finishing with style.
“I take it upon myself to lead this team. But I also credit my team for playing so hard and running our offense and doing all of the little things it takes to keep winning these games,” Tyree said.
While Tyree’s performance was legendary, so was that of her supporting casts. Sand Creek cut a big D’Evelyn second half lead down to 45-44 late in the third quarter.
But the Jaguars poured it on the fourth quarter behind three double-digit scoring efforts. Sophomore Morgan Ducklow had 12 points and junior Malia Shappell added 11 points.
“Laura had a special night but we needed everyone to get this win against a good team like they have,” D’Evelyn coach Chris Olson said.
Despite facing a height disadvantage at almost every position D’Evelyn never struggled with Sand Creek’s size and athleticism.
Instead, they used it as an opportunity to make a statement in the state tournament as they now advance to the Final Four to face another No. 1 seed in Pueblo West Thursday at 4 p.m. at CU Events Center in Boulder.
“We play against boys all the time and they beat us up. So there isn’t anyone that we are afraid of or feel we can’t beat,” Shappell said.