WINDSOR — The Windsor girls basketball team’s vision for the future is a vivid one.
For the past year, the Wizards have remained laser-focused on a dream that could become a reality a week from now.
But just because Windsor has a knack for peering into the future, that doesn’t mean the Wizards are the least bit prone to looking past the here and now.
In fact, that ability to remain focused on what’s directly in front of it is largely what has allowed Windsor to endure more than 90% of its season without a single loss.
The Wizards’ unwavering focus remained firmly on display Friday night at Reg Figal Gymnasium as top-seeded Windsor grinded past No. 9 D’Evelyn 63-38 in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A girls basketball state tournament.
“We went on a team camp to Black Hills (State University in Spearfish, S.D.) this past summer,” said Wizards senior forward Olivia Reed, who had 19 points and game-highs of 13 rebounds and two blocks. “We sat down as a team and wrote down our goals. Our first goal is getting back to that state championship and hopefully succeeding at winning that state championship.”
With the victory over the Jaguars (21-4), Windsor improved to 25-0 and punched its ticket to Thursday’s semifinals.
The Wizards will play their first game away from Reg Figal Gymnasium this postseason when they take on No. 5 Mead (21-5) in the semifinals at the Denver Coliseum.
If they win that game, they’ll move on to Saturday’s semifinals, potentially facing second-seeded, two-time defending state champion Mullen (18-6) in a rematch of the state finals a year ago.
Reed admitted such a scenario would be the realization of her and her teammates’ most sincere hopes and dreams from the past 11 months.
But first, Windsor must take care of business on Thursday. Even though the Wizards have defeated Mead — a conference foe — by double digits twice this season, Windsor coach Karin Nicholls said her team isn’t about to take anything for granted when the two teams match up again in the semifinals.
“Everybody starts over,” Nicholls said. “We just finished a run, and we’ve been taking everything one game at a time through each series. The (playoffs up to this point) was a three-game series for us. And now we start back over with a two-game series. I’m scouting (Mead) the same way I would a brand new opponent.”
The Wizards have proven they can win games in every way imaginable — perhaps not surprising for a team that has won 25 games and lost none.
In Tuesday’s 63-35 third-round win against No. 17 Durango, Windsor played perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing first half it has played all season, building ample cushion for a less dominant second half.
On Friday, the Wizards withstood an early 3-point-shooting flurry by D’Evelyn. Windsor trailed for one of very few times this season after the Jaguars sank their third 3 in the first 3 minutes, 3 seconds to jump out to a 9-3 lead.
The Wizards promptly responded with a 15-0 run, to take an 18-9 lead, and never looked back.
Windsor allowed D’Evelyn just one 3-pointer in the final 28:57, after giving up three 3-pointers in the first 3:03.
It wasn’t the prettiest of wins for the Wizards. But sometimes the most hard-fought and consequential wins aren’t the prettiest.
“When I walked in the locker room, the first thing I said after I sat down was, ‘This was our best team effort all season,’ ” Windsor senior Jolie Jiricek, who scored a game-high 21 points to go with five rebounds and three steals. “We just grinded it out. We all had to commit to playing defense, scoring and playing as a team. We’re not going to beat anybody from here on out with individual play.”
DHS 9 11 7 11 — 38
WHS 12 21 10 20 — 63
WHS (FG-FGA FT-FTA Pts) — Jolie Jiricek 8-14 2-4 21, Olivia Reed 8-10 3-3 19, Alexis Backhaus 4-11 3-6 13, Raegan Johnson 2-4 0-0 5, Mykaela Moore 1-9 1-2 3, Samantha Darnell 1-5 0-2 2, Julia Bohlinger 0 0-0 0, Kadence Marsh 0-2 0-0 0, Hailee Wright 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 24-58 9-17 63
4A girls state tournament quarterfinals
No. 5 Mead 64, No. 29 Severance 46
No. 2 Mullen 59, No. 7 Roosevelt 27
3A girls state tournament, Round 1
No. 1 Platte Valley 59, No. 32 DSST: Byers 20
No. 9 Eaton 44, No. 24 North Fork 23
No. 2 University 55, No. 31 Eagle Ridge Academy 15
No. 15 Coal Ridge 45, No. 18 Resurrection Christian 43
No. 6 Pagosa Springs 41, No. 27 Valley 23
2A girls Region 7, Round 1
No. 7 Dayspring Christian 38, No. 26 Center 31
3A boys state tournament, Round 1
No. 17 University 70, No. 16 Lutheran 48
No. 8 Eagle Ridge Academy 51, No. 25 Platte Valley 50
No. 9 Highland 68, No. 24 DSST: Green Valley Ranch 53
No. 15 Eaton 71, No. 18 Colorado Springs Christian 56
No. 6 Resurrection Christian 73, No. 27 Fort Lupton 32
Fore more information about these playoff games, visit greeleytribune.com in the coming days and check out Wednesday’s print edition.
Bobby Fernandez covers high school sports for the Greeley Tribune. Reach him at (970) 392-4478, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @BobbyDFernandez.