Mar 8, 2014 9:11 PM by Greg Smith
DENVER - Gabby Purnell is the Peyton Manning of Mesa Ridge girls basketball.
The 5-foot-5 senior point guard controls games and runs the show. Purnell worked a masterpiece against D'Evelyn in the Great 8 at the Denver Coliseum with a 9-of-11 shooting performance for 22 points as Mesa Ridge girls beat the Jaguars 47-41.
Purnell is a quick player with great ballhandling skills. She controlled the pace of the game and led a strong Grizzlies effort throughout.
"Gabby Purnell is a coach on the floor," Mesa Ridge coach Jeff Beatty said about his point guard. "I very, very rarely call any plays. Gabby calls everything. She does it all on the floor for me. I'll change up defenses and such, but she pretty much calls the offense out there and runs the show and gets the ball to the open player. She's extraordinary. I can't believe there aren't D-I's beating my door down to get her."
Mesa Ridge looked like they were going to blowout D'Evelyn out in the third as they had a commanding 45-26 lead, but the Jaguars' Malia Shappell led a furious late run. Shappell scored 11 second half points and 17 overall, but it wasn't enough as the Grizzlies held on.
Mesa Ridge's 6-foot-4 sophomore Kylee Shook only scored four points, but grabbed 10 rebounds and was a defensive presence. She was injured and out for last year's Great 8 loss to Pueblo South, the eventual champion.
"Last year we made the final 8 and lost and that hurt us a little bit," Beatty said. "They've really come together and they really share the ball. Our defense was really good today."
D'Evelyn finished 21-5 after being the state runner-ups the past two seasons.
Mesa Ridge will play the winner of Pueblo South vs. Elizabeth in the Final Four in Boulder. The Grizzlies are now 26-0 this season.