DENVER - The Horizon Hawks weren’t about to let their season end Tuesday night.
Not with a trip to the Great Eight on the horizon, and a rematch with top-seeded Regis Jesuit.
The No. 3 Hawks rolled into Cherry Creek Tuesday and topped the No. 2 Bears 59-51 in the Sweet-16 round of the Class 5A girls basketball tournament.
“From the get-go we were saying this was not going to be our last game,” said Horizon senior point guard Gabby Martinez, who had nine points in the victory. “We wanted to put the pressure on them.”
Coach Greg Hahn and his team spent the past few days watching tape on Cherry Creek’s second-round victory over Boulder. One thing that stood out was how the Bears jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the opening quarter.
“We knew we needed to jump on them,” Hahn said. “We needed them to respond to our pressure, and I think it surprised them a bit because we haven’t pressured that much this year.”
The Hawks pressure not only took the Bears out of their game, it helped Horizon’s offense get rolling behind the strong play of Alyssa and Kaylie Rader.
From the opening tip-off Horizon dominated the post behind the Rader duo and the Hawks jumped out to a 22-10 lead in the opening period. A basket by Kaylie Rader pushed Horizon’s lead to 30-12. The Bears did close the half on 7-2 run to cut the Hawks lead to 13.
The big lead didn’t deter Cherry Creek in the second half, the Bears forced Horizon into three turnovers to start the half and went on an 8-1 run to cut the Hawks lead to six.
That was when Jimenez took over, the senior point guard drained a trey and then fed Alyssa Rader to put the Hawks up 42-34 going into the fourth.
A basket by Jimenez and a trey by Lauren Bennett sealed the victory for the Hawks.
“Gabby was great. She hit a three and was very patient,” Hahn said. “She showed a lot of senior leadership.”
This the furthest Horizon (18-7 overall) has advanced in the tournament since 2007, when the Hawks got as far as the Final Four.
Alyssa Rader scored a game-high 20 points, while Kaylie Rader had 16 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks.
The Hawks won’t have much time to celebrate, they face Regis Jesuit Thursday at the Denver Coliseum.
The Raiders, who topped Fort Collins 54-40 on Tuesday, beat Horizon 54-51 on Dec. 13. Junior guard Justine Hall had a game-high 21 points and four steals for the Raiders.
Regis Jesuit (23-2) only losses this season were to Fairmont (Ohio) 43-35 and ThunderRidge 57-53.
“It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be a battle,” Hahn said. “They are a very good team and we played them close the first time we faced them.”