Thanks to a solid group of players in front of them, Kate Ogrodny and her senior teammates watched more basketball than played in their past seasons at Pine Creek.
On Tuesday, the trio finally got its turn to shine on the court.
Ogrodny led all scorers with 20 points, and fellow seniors Bri Bailey and Elaena Murdock added eight points and 10 rebounds, respectively, to power the host No. 21 Eagles to a 47-25 win over No. 44 Mountain Range in a 5A first-round girls' playoff game.
"I've been waiting patiently for four years behind all the seniors that we've been behind," Ogrodny said. "But we kept working hard and knew we'd get our chance. It feels good to win and play with such a great, young group."
Pine Creek (13-11) next will travel to Boulder to meet No. 12 Fairview (18-5) on Friday.
The Eagles lost all five starters and eight total seniors to graduation following last season, accounting for more than 90 percent of their scoring.
And early on, the leaders and the rest of the inexperienced squad showed their nerves, finding the basket just once in the game's first four minutes before a 15-2 run spanning the final minutes of the first period and most of the second created a 15-point lead.
The Eagles led 21-8 at halftime and weren't threatened in the second half.
"This is their first chance at this, and that's a cool thing to be a part of," second-year Eagles coach Janean Jubic said. "We have literally never done this. After graduating eight seniors, I don't think people expected much from us. We wanted to prove them wrong, and we've used that as momentum."
The Eagles survived a poor shooting night, connecting on just 28 percent (12 of 43 attempts) but made up the difference with a defense that produced 18 steals to go with a 19-of-26 effort from the free-throw line.
"To not shoot well and still win by 22 says a lot about this team," Jubic said. "There were games in the past that not shooting well dictated the outcome, so this definitely was a growth improvement for the team."
Mountain Range (10-14), a program nearly as young as Pine Creek with only two seniors, struggled to single-digit scoring over the first three quarters and never led.
Amber Gustason and Lillian West had six points each to pace the Mustangs.
"You can't beat a playoff team when you lay an egg," Mountain Range coach Bill Giampietro said. "We just didn't play well and have to grow up in these situations and make plays. It's a matter of putting things together and playing smarter basketball in big games like this."