Playing in the state championship game is nothing new to the Grandview girls basketball team – but that doesn't mean the road there has gotten any easier.
The back-to-back Class 5A champion Wolves had to survive a thriller against Regis Jesuit, a rematch of last year's title game, at the Coliseum on Thursday night.
But, thanks to a late run over which they outscored the Raiders 11-2 in the final four minutes, Grandview will return seeking a third-straight championship after a 48-38 victory.
"We just had to keep working," said Landri Hudson, who led the Wolves with 13 points. "We had to make sure we had the most energy, and we wanted it more."
Grandview took control early on, leading by as many as 13 points in the first half. Regis Jesuit then went on a second-quarter surge to pull within 26-22 at halftime.
The Raiders followed that up by starting the third quarter on an 8-0 run to grab their first lead of the game. One possession at a time, the Wolves regained their lead, 37-36, and began to put the game away coming down the stretch.
"We know how it feels to win, so it helps motivate us to get back to it," Hudson said.
Allyah Marlett added 10 points for the Wolves. On the other end, the Raiders were led by Avery Vansickle's 13 points that included hitting three 3-pointers, and 11 points from Jada Moore.
Regis Jesuit star Fran Belibi was held to just six points in the defeat.
CHERRY CREEK 53, HIGHLANDS RANCH 52
Grandview's opponent for the state championship game has a completely different story.
Unlike the Wolves, Cherry Creek will be looking for its first title in program history when the two meet in the final at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
To get there, the Bruins had to take down top-seeded Highlands Ranch in the final game on Thursday night. That semifinal game came all the way down to the wire with nine lead changes before the Falcons' game-winning shot attempt as time expired hit the rim and bounced away.
When asked about the possibility of bringing home the school's first girls basketball championship, game-leading scorer (21 points) Jana Van Gytenbeek said: "That would be amazing. That's the goal."
Cherry Creek also had 15 key points from Cali Clark, who knocked down the go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute.
Highlands Ranch had three players reach double-digit scoring figures in Autumn Watts and Jamie Bain with 13 apiece, as well as Payton Muma's 10.