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High school athletes take time to help team of fourth-grade girls


It’s easy to notice Makena Prey’s talents on the basketball court or the golf course.

However, the Golden High School senior has also been an influence in the classroom with a 4.66 weighed grade-point average, and she is helping coach a fourth-grade girls basketball team.

Prey, Golden boys basketball standout Adam Thistlewood and Prey’s teammate Mia Johnson were asked by their calculus teacher Shannon Garvin if they would drop in once in a while to help coach her daughter’s team.

One practice session with the young team has led to many others whenever the schedules of the players allow.

It’s been enjoyable and a learning experience coaching the youngsters.

“We have fun with them when we go to the gym,” said Prey. “I’m definitely learning that the way you say things matters because it clicks differently with other kids. It has definitely made me more patient with players on my team because it is definitely going to click with them eventually, just not as fast as it does with me. Or just the opposite, it might not click with me as it does with some of the other girls on the team.

“We are just trying to get them to make layups and make the easy baskets because as fourth-graders they don’t score that much in their games. So every little bucket counts. We focus on making layups and ball handling.”

The fourth-grade girls are lucky to have two of the state’s best basketball players in Prey and Thistlewood tutoring them.

Prey, a 6-foot forward, led all Class 4A players in scoring with a 24.9 average after eight games, was sixth with 11.6 rebounds a game, and was the state leader with 76 field goals. She was shooting 67 percent from the floor. She was second with 45 made free throws while making 70 percent of her attempts.

Thistlewood, a 6-7 senior who has signed to play at Drake, was third in the state with a 23.6 scoring average and was first with 76 field goals. He has made 78 percent of his free throws, with his 46 put free throws ranking him second in the state.

“I like teaching the next generation how I was taught to play basketball,” Thistlewood said about coaching. “We definitely try to teach them the fundamentals. They have a bundle of energy.”

Prey comes from an athletic, competitive family. Her father, Hank, played basketball at Colorado School of Mines. Older sister Sydney was a Golden standout who is now a freshman golfer and redshirt freshman basketball player at Colorado Mesa. Younger sister Haley is a sophomore on the Demons’ girls basketball team.

“The competition kinda made me the player I am today since I was always having to go against my older sister who is very competitive,” said Prey. “I was always trying to beat her in basketball, golf or school. We pushed to be the best. We do that with everything.”

That includes playing pickup games against boys at the recreation center.

“I’ve been doing that for a little less than a year now and at first nobody would want me to play because I’m a girl,” said Prey. “Once they found out I was actually pretty good they started to let me play more and I could beat some of them. Now I know most of them and they put me on a team when we play.”

Bound for South Korea

Rosters for the United States men’s and women’s Olympic hockey teams were announced and two local players will be competing Feb. 9-25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Troy Terry, a 20-year-old University of Denver junior from Highlands Ranch, is the youngest player named to the men’s team. Green Mountain alumna and Lindenwood University graduate Nicole Hensley will be on the women’s team.

Terry scored four shootout goals in the semifinal and title games to help Team USA win the World Junior Championship last January.

Douglas County girls sports luncheon

The Foundation for Douglas County Schools and Douglas County School District will hold their annual Girls and Women in Sports luncheon to honor select coaches, current and former athletes and other guests on Jan. 12 at Chaparral High School.

Each high school will select five girls and each middle school picks seven girls to be honored.

Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at jbenton@coloradocommunitymedia.com or at 303-566-4083.


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