At the beginning of the year, if you would’ve told Doherty girls’ basketball coach Patrick McKiernan that his team would receive a first-round bye after going 20-3 in the regular season, he would have called you crazy.
Same goes for Columbine coach Greg Bolding, who coached his Rebels to their first playoff game in eight years last week, and Friday, took it one step further by upsetting No. 13 Doherty 46-44 on the road.
“They’ve never been in this position before, and this is huge for our program,” Bolding said.
No. 20 Columbine held Doherty (20-4) off as the Spartans missed three free throws in the final minute of the game.
The Rebels (18-7) will move on to play No. 4 Grandview in the third round.
With the game on the line and less than a minute to go, McKiernan said it was business as usual for the Spartans, but they just ran out of time.
“We had our good veteran crew out there who knows how to finish games and attack the basket, and we just had to play,” McKiernan said. “But some of those missed free throws, there was a rebound there at the end that might have helped us, but you can’t knock the girls. They played very well.”
Unfortunately for McKiernan and his Spartans, earning the bye week may have thrown Doherty off its game, a team that was riding a 16-game winning streak heading into the playoffs.
“The bye week, as a coach you kind of wonder if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, and tonight it was a bad thing,” McKiernan said. “I don't think we really played bad, but we missed a lot of shots. In the first quarter we missed six or eight wide-open layups.”
A combination of Doherty’s poor shooting and Columbine’s aggressive defense kept the game tight.
“We needed to be aggressive the entire time and keep them on their heels because once they get comfortable out there they start to click,” Bolding said. “We wanted to be aggressive from the start and make them uncomfortable in their offense.”
The Rebels succeeded thanks in part to a huge block by 6-foot-4 junior Maura Singer who smacked down a Spartan 3-point shot in the first five minutes.
“Maura’s presence inside, especially when she gets deflections like that, she makes them think,” Bolding said.
Singer continued to be a burden for Doherty the whole way through.
“We were trying to attack the basket, but when you have a 6-4 kid standing there it makes it tough to attack because there’s nowhere to go,” McKiernan said. “But I knew this was going to be a tough matchup for us.”
Brionna Mcbride led the Spartans with 12 points, followed by Mykiaa Minniss who scored 11. Quincey Baum was the Rebels’ top scorer with 15 points.
And although the season ended sooner than McKiernan and his Spartans would have liked, their undefeated league record and lengthy winning streak put the 2017-18 season in the win column.
“This team far outweighed my expectations,” McKiernan said. “We would have liked to see us have one or two more games and see how far we could get, but they far exceeded anything I could have expected and I’m very proud.”