The Mesa Ridge girls' basketball team has turned into a powerhouse in the Colorado Springs area since its perfect season and 4A state championship in 2013-14.
Every season seems to include a star-studded roster led by an athlete destined to make waves well beyond high school.
This season that athlete led her team to a third consecutive league championship and the team’s first appearance in the final four since 2014.
Chloe Welch is the Gazette Preps 5A-4A Girls’ Basketball Peak Performer of the Year.
Destined for Davidson, Welch claimed her second straight 5A-4A Peak Performer title, leading the Grizzlies with 16.3 points per game.
In her junior year, Welch carried a heavier load, scoring 18 points per game as she was responsible for nearly a third of Mesa Ridge’s scoring in 2016-17.
But things changed for Welch and Mesa Ridge in the offseason.
“This was the best team I’ve had in my high school career so it was awesome to work with great teammates and be successful and win games,” Welch said, explaining that the team chemistry was the biggest difference in her senior year. “We got closer as teammates this year which benefited us.
"We all grew and developed as a team and became better players together.”
A tighter bond lessened the load for Welch, who was accompanied by Ashley Bowen (12.8 ppg), Serin Dunne (9.6 ppg) and Angelina Jackson (9.7 ppg) in a more well-rounded scoring rotation. Last season Welch and Bowen were the only two players to average seven points per game or more.
She flirted with a double-double average with nine rebounds per game in addition to her 16 points per night. She also dished out six assists, 2.3 steals and 1.8 blocks per game. She has been a consistent threat for the Grizzlies for the past three seasons, playing an average of 24 minutes and averaging 16 points per game since her sophomore year. She has shot 49 percent from two-point range and 30 percent beyond the arc.
“She’s the most complete basketball player in the city,” one local coach said when nominating Welch for Peak Performer of the Year. “She has the ability to do everything you need a player to do on the court… she’s the energizer bunny - she never stops moving.”
But that’s not the only time Welch was compared to the pink, drumming battery bunny that never stops.
“She does everything for that team,” another coach noted. “I have watched her play three or four times this year, and she’s like the energizer bunny - keeps going and going and going.”
That energy, in addition to her continued growth physically helped mold her into one of the best players to come through the Pikes Peak region - and earned an honorable mention nod on the list of all-time greatest girls basketball players from Colorado Springs.
“I was a lot smaller and more frail when I was younger so I was strictly the point guard so I didn’t get to the basket as much and I just facilitated more and passed,” Welch said. “But as I got older I started scoring more and got more aggressive.”
Welch said she’s now doing CrossFit to bulk up for her Division I debut next year.