EDITOR'S NOTE: Buena Vista High School's Lady Demons will be setting off tomorrow for the state tournament. Activities Director Adam Bright says they will be heading down Main Street around 2:30 p.m. The public is encouraged to come out to support the team as they head out.

"Come down to Main Street, wear your red and white," he said. "You'll see the cop cars, the fire truck and the decorated school bus come down."

Buena Vista earned the right to open the 2023 CHSAA Girls 3A State Basketball Tournament early Thursday morning by shocking top-seeded and undefeated Peyton 46-44 in overtime Saturday.

No. 16 Buena Vista (16-8) draws No. 9 Ellicott at 8:45 a.m., Thursday, at Denver University.

Buena Vista got past Skyview Academy 37-33 Friday to advance to the regional championship game in Peyton. Ellicott beat Liberty Common 51-36 and North Fork 45-40 to advance to Thursday morning’s showdown.

Buena Vista advances to its first Great 8 since 2009.

“I think they took us for granted, especially after seeing our Friday night game,” Buena Vista coach Robert Crowther said. “We came out ready and jumped all over them to start the game.”

Buena Vista led 13-4 heading into the second quarter and 25-20 at halftime.

The Lady Panthers (24-1) kept chipping away at the lead until the game ended tied at 40-all.

“They missed some big free throws down the wire, but there was a lot of pressure on both teams to win that game,” Crowther said.

The third quarter saw them trim the lead to 3 points and then we would get back to 8 or 9, he said. BV led 33-29 entering the fourth quarter.

“The game really changed the fourth quarter and the officials began calling everything close to a foul,” Crowther reported. “Gwen Feuss fouled out, then Bailey Turner was out, and we had our leading scorer Autumn Wingo” and Madeline Litvay with four fouls each.

“We had to try and play the good defense that we had been playing, now in foul trouble,” Crowther said. “Audrey Johnson and Ella Coates really stepped up and put a clamp on their scorers. They hit a couple of free throws to take a 1-point lead with a minute to go.”

Litvay hit a clutch free throw to tie the game and the teams traded scoreless possessions until time expired.

Johnson hit a jumper to tie the game at 42 in overtime after Peyton hit two free throws to take the lead.

A Peyton basket gave the Lady Panthers a 44-42 lead, but Litvay hit another free throw to cut the lead to 1 point.

A possession later, Litvay got the ball inside and drew a foul.

Her first tied the game, the second set a wild scramble for the ball in motion.

“Audrey came up with the ball and we held the ball to get the time down,” Crowther said. “With 25 seconds left, they fouled Autumn, who went to the line and made both free throws” for the final 46-44 margin.

 “They had the ball but we had their scorers covered and they had to settle for a 25-footer that was blocked by Madeline and we had ourselves a victory and a trip to state,” Crowther said. “Our first trip back to the final 8 since 2009.”

Buena Vista did it with defense.

“Their two leading scorers were averaging close to 36 points a game and we held them to a combined 15,” he said. “That was the big difference in the game.”

While perhaps not the biggest single win in program history, it may well be historic.

“I don’t know of anytime that we were such big underdogs and were able to win,” Crowther said. “We played an undefeated team, at their gym with their packed crowd going crazy and we went there and beat them. 

“I talked a while with their coach in the hospitality room and he talked about what an exciting that game it was and how hard both teams played,” Crowther said.

In the 37-33 victory over No. 17 Skyview, BV started slowly and trailed 25-18 at halftime.

“We talked about just relaxing. They were big and played great defense,” Crowther said. “It was a struggle for us to get anything going. 

“The third quarter were came out relaxed and good things started happening,” he said. Specifically, a scoreless quarter posted by the defense.

BV led 26-25 heading into the final quarter.

“We extended it out and they never made a run at us.  We held them scoreless the last 2 minutes of the second quarter ‘til 5 minutes left in the game,” Crowther noted.

“It was a tough, emotional game for us and they were much better than we thought they would be,” he said. “We were led in scoring by Autumn Wingo with 20 points and Ella Coates with 8. Everyone played hard and good things finally began to start happening for us the second half.”

Ellicott won 47-28 in Buena Vista Jan. 14.

“We didn’t play very well against Ellicott the first time, and we feel like we can compete with them,” Crowther said. “They start five seniors and are a very good basketball team. I think they are one of the underrated teams as I feel we are.”

The BV-Ellicott winner will draw the winner of Vanguard School-Grand Valley at 4 p.m., Friday, March 10.

No. 2 Vanguard (21-2) tops the bottom half of the bracket. They play No. 7 St. Mary’s (19-5). The winner meets No. 6 Platte Valley (17-7) and No. 3 Colorado Springs Christian (22-2).

The 3A girls championship game will be 4 p.m. Saturday. Third place game is noon.

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