Woodland Park Winter Sports End with a Few Big Winners

Both Basketball Teams Get Eliminated from State Championships

Trevor Phipps

Photo By Paul Magnuson

Now that all winter sports have officially come to a halt, high school sports fans are now in the lull with no action before spring sports start up later this month.

But now that many seniors have played sports for their last year, it is fair to say that the winter sports season ended on a high note for the most part.

In individual sports like girls’ swimming and boys’ and girls’ wrestling, several stars qualified for the state championship. The girls’ wrestling team had a wrestler place in state for the first time ever, and the girls’ swimming team had one star make it to state every year of her high school career.

Team sports didn’t fare as well on the books, but both of the Woodland Park High School basketball teams did make it to the state championship tournament. The boys lost out fast, but the girls’ team won a game, and made it to a total of four postseason matches.

The following is a recap of the two high school basketball teams this last season as the athletes switch gears to focus on other things while making plans to prepare for next season.

Girls’ Basketball

The Lady Panthers had somewhat of a rebuilding year this season with new head coach Gary Lays. But the team stayed right around .500 during the season and they earned the chance to play four playoff games.

The ladies officially finished their ’23-’24 season with a 9-14 overall record and they got 4-9 in their 4A/3A Tri-Peaks League. The girls finished in 10th place in their league, but they still qualified for a playoff match.

The team lost their last regular season game on the road against the Manitou Springs Mustangs on Feb. 15 by a thin 38-37 margin. Then two days later, the Lady Panthers redeemed themselves when they beat the 3-17 Rye Thunderbolts 37-23.

But then, the girls started struggling in the playoffs. Their first big loss came when they were beat by the undefeated 22-0 Colorado Springs Christian School Lions 80-10 on Feb. 20.

The losing streak in the playoffs continued for the girls when they lost to the 16-6 Banning Lewis Academy Stallions 33-12 on Feb. 23. The team’s last lost in the playoffs came on Feb. 24 when they fell to the 11-12 Ellicott Thunderhawks 40-18.

Senior Brenna Larsen was one of the team’s top players as she was the team leader in points per game (9.9), free throw percentage per game (62%) and the most points (197). Sophomore Emma Larsen also proved to be a valuable team member as she also took number one in team stats in a number of categories.

Emma Larsen earned the most rebounds (8.4 average per game and 168 total), blocks (1.1 average per game and 22 total) and field goal percentage with 33%. Senior Stella Schroeder also placed in the top three of all of the team’s stats, and she was the best in assists (3.1 average per game and 61 total), and steals (6.2 average per game and 124 total).

Luckily, the team was rather young this year so Brenna Larsen and Schroeder will be the only two starters lost to graduation.

Boys’ Basketball

This year, the boys had a complete rebuild year with a brand new coach and several young players. The team struggled for most of the season as the players are still working on learning the game under new head coach Dip Donaldson.

The team finished with an overall 2-17 record and a 1-12 league tally. They finished in 13th place in their 3A/4A Tri-Peaks League, but they were able to earn a spot in the postseason championship tournament.

But even though they had a chance at postseason action, the boys lost their last 11 games of the season. On Feb. 15, they lost their last regular season match to the 9-13 Manitou Mustangs on the road 52-42.

Then when they started playing in the post-season, things didn’t get much better. The Panthers took on the 6-17 Colorado Springs Christian Lions in the playoffs, and lost by a close 62-58 score on Feb. 17, ending their ’23-’24 season.

During the season, senior Caden Howard proved to be the team’s most effective player after earning the top spot in statistics in several categories. Howard was the best in scoring (18.8 average points per game and 357 total), assists (1.6 average per game and 30 total) and steals (3.6 average per game and 68 total).

Junior Joe Johnson also earned a spot in the top three in most statistical categories. He earned the best field goal percentage (38%) and the most free-throws per game with an 84 free-throw percentage per game.

Freshman Cody Becker also made it to the top three in the team in quite a few categories. Becker was the best on the team when it came to rebounds (5.9 average per game and 106 total), and blocks (1.6 average per game and 29 total).

The good news is even though the team will be losing four seniors this year to graduation, the young stars will provide a promising future for the Panthers.