An Unforgettable Journey

Scott Ayers

As the clock struck zero, shock and heartbreak filled the dense and quiet air. The highly talented Warriors that the “MOWB” (Men of Women’s Basketball) had come to love and cheer for had been upset by an unknown Fruita Monument team. The AHS girls came into the playoffs with one mission and one goal — to win a championship. Those dreams were crushed because of one poor shooting night.  However, the season shouldn’t be remembered as a failure, it should be known as the season where one team went against all odds and had the regular season of a lifetime.

Very briefly, I’d like to talk about the MOWB– the greatest 6th man in all of sports. Featuring a wide span of students, ranging between 10 to 12 a game, it wasn’t the amount of students that mattered, it was the heart and soul that we brought to games. Whether it was screaming “that our flag was still there” during the national anthem, or trying to copy Coach Knafelc’s movement during senior night against Creek,the amount of energy and fandom we possessed was unlike any other fan sections.  The whole reason to start a fan section for the girls wasn’t an attempt to befriend these girls or to look for a love life with them. Instead, it was to show that talented sports teams deserve support, no matter the gender. The MOWB started last year, with Zach Trask, Justin Lindell, Jack Hinchsliff, and Adam Quiat. I was a late addition to the fan section, but the main reason we went to games was to show the girls that there were students and fans that cared about how they did and would stick with them during the highs and the lows.

After a week of trying to wrap my head around the fact that what happened wasn’t a nightmare but indeed a reality, I was able to reflect on all the incredible memories and events that happened over the span of one short season. Sure, I had been broadcasting girls games since my sophomore year, and cheering in the fan section since my junior year, but something about this senior season had me and many others more attached to the team more than ever before. The first thing that comes to mind is all the great personalities these girls showed both on and off the floor. The girls always seemed to have a smile on their face, in practice, in the halls- and even sometimes after a missed layup. The girls all had something that was unique to them: Jennah Knafelc and her incredible back muscles; Katie Crowley’s obsession over SimCity; the ruthlessness shown by the sophomores Maddie Matthews and Macy Ziegler; the blank stares often given by Allie Sheehan and Ellie Kearby; the sarcasm portrayed by Annabelle Brewer… and the list goes on and on.

One game that truly reflects this team is the Grandview game on Jan. 30 at Sitting Eagle Gymnasium. At the time, Grandview was ranked 3rd in the state and had only one league loss against Cherry Creek. Meanwhile, the Warriors had already suffered an 18 point loss to Grandview earlier in the season. The matchup was seen truly as a David vs. Goliath matchup. Grandview had superstar sophomore Michaela Onyenwere who was averaging well over 20 points per game. However, Arapahoe had something to prove, and the players weren’t going to back down from the challenge. The intensity of the gym before-hand was just as high right at tipoff.

The first half went back in forth in scoring for both teams, until Grandview was able to grasp an 8-point lead at the end of the 1st half. The start of the second half was miserable for the Warriors,with a missed three, a turnover, and a technical foul on Coach K, the girls began to trail by 15. The will of the Warriors to come back was something indescribable. After slowly chipping away at the lead, the girls came alive from beyond the arc. Katie Crowley, who had missed her previous four three-pointers, started things off with one three-pointer. Then she knocked down two more after that. Annabelle Brewer, who had her best game of the season, hit a three-pointer, then Jennah hit from deep. The most memorable shot on the run however, has to come from the sophomore Kat Abt, who hit a mid-range jumper to give the Warriors a 48-47 lead. Then, after trying to pull away, the Warriors led 58-56 with 25 seconds to go. After an Arapahoe turnover, Grandview had the ball, with one last full possession to try and tie up the game. Onyenwere had the ball and the horrifying thought of overtime began to cross my mind. But, in a split second, Macy Ziegler made the steal of the season and was able to find Knafelc with just 7 seconds to go. Arapahoe ended up winning the game 59-56.

The resilience and the toughness shown in this game by the Warriors wasn’t an accident or a mistake. It’s just what this team was made of- able to compete against any team. After the win against Grandview, Arapahoe would go on an 8-game win streak–including impressive wins over Mullen and Creek. The great end of the season led to a #2 seed for the extremely young Arapahoe team– which was an accomplishment few believed that the Warriors could achieve at the beginning of the season.

Now I’ll talk more personally about the two senior captains. I had the blessing and opportunity of knowing both Jennah and Annabelle since my freshman year. First, every so often a few of my friends and I would be invited to practice against the girls. It was all fun and games unless I ever had to guard Jennah. Guarding Jennah during practices might have been the worst thing when playing against the girls in practices. She was mean and aggressive, and could blow right by me whenever she pleased. Believe it or not, Jennah was much more friendly and loving off the court than she was on the court. She cared deeply about her teammates, family, and close friends. Annabelle, on the other hand, was deceivingly scary. With an innocent look on her face, you didn’t see her true aggression until she was diving on the floor for a loose ball. She may have been undersized at her position, but she could play with just about any girl in the state. Both girls have personalities that can light up a room, and leadership strong enough to motivate a locker room. Both girls are destined to do great things in the future.

The final piece I have to say is: Thank you to the parents, to the team, and to the coaches, for putting up with my shenanigans over the past few years. As the saying goes: “Don’t be sad that it’s over, be happy that it happened.” Although the journey for a title came to an end too early, a new door has now been opened for next season for the girls to get better and to grow closer together as a team. For Annabelle and Jennah, the road and journey to a college title begins now.