Mesa Ridge girls' basketball avoids postseason upset with late-game surge

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Photo - Mesa Ridge's Serin Dunne takes a baseline jumper during the Grizzlies' 56-55 win over Littleton in the second round of the Class 4A state tournament on Feb. 23, 2018. (Photo by Chhun Sun)
Mesa Ridge's Serin Dunne takes a baseline jumper during the Grizzlies' 56-55 win over Littleton in the second round of the Class 4A state tournament on Feb. 23, 2018. (Photo by Chhun Sun)

Things weren't looking so good for Mesa Ridge's girls' basketball team.

On Friday night, the Grizzlies were behind for much of the second half while their leading scorer was struggling. But then in stepped Monet Hubbard, who nailed a big 3-pointer with about two minutes left against Littleton in the second round of the Class 4A state tournament.

Upset averted.

No. 8 Mesa Ridge's 56-55 thrilling home win prompted fans to storm onto their home court after the final buzzer sounded. And in the end, the Grizzlies (21-3) breathed a sigh of relief as they aim to make another deep playoff run.

"It was not our best game," Hubbard said.

The sophomore guard scored all nine of her points from beyond the arc, as sophomore Jada Thompson came off the bench to hit four 3-pointers and led the Grizzlies with 14 points.

Mesa Ridge senior Chloe Welch, who averaged nearly 16 points, was double-teamed for most of the night and finished with 10. The Davidson College signee went scoreless in the second and third quarters before she came up with a crucial three-point play late in the game.

"I overcame that by passing the ball to my teammates who I know were going to make shots and getting other people open, than worrying about myself," Welch said. "I just play the game and don't worry about my stats."

It was Hubbard's 3-pointer with 2:08 left that gave the Grizzles some ease with a 55-53 advantage.

In a game with 10 lead changes and eight tying scores, Mesa Ridge was behind by eight points twice in the third before opening up the fourth on an 8-0 surge. Thompson hit a 3 with 4:12 left to put the Grizzlies up 50-49, their first lead since late in the first half.

Littleton's Susie Puchino made a bucket to cut the deficit to 56-55 with 35 seconds left, but Rebekah Sandstrom (a game-high 19 points) missed a short jumper at the buzzer.

And then came an early postseason celebration on the court for a Grizzlies team that made it to the quarterfinal rounds in the past two seasons. It wasn't easy to move on, considering they played a Littleton team that handed Evergreen, the defending 4A champ, one of its two losses this season.

Mesa Ridge faces Denver's Thomas Jefferson in the next round Tuesday.