Opponents of the Mesa Ridge girls' basketball team already have enough to worry about when it comes to McDonald's All-American Kylie Shook. Now, there's another problem.
Sophomore Chloe Welch has burst onto the scene this season as the Robin to Shook's Batman. The 5-foot-8 guard is averaging 16.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game.
Welch has broken out the past four games, averaging 27 points per game in those contests, including a 33-point outburst in an 81-42 win over Woodland Park last week.
It's something that puts a large smile on the face of Mesa Ridge coach Jeff Beatty.
"It really increases how dangerous we are," Beatty said of Welch's production. "We're a tough matchup, and she adds someone else who can drive and score and hit perimeter shots. Chloe releases well in the fast break, and finishes at a high level when she gets to the basket.
"She's excelled in that role lately, which includes scoring and passing."
Welch's rapid development can be traced in part to the tough situation she was in last season. As a freshman, Welch was named starting point guard on a team that lost quite a bit of talent from the previous year's undefeated 4A state title squad.
But, much like a diamond is formed under pressure, Welch has become a dominant force in just her second year in high school basketball.
"This year I'm much more confident, and I realize that I can do more on offense and I can be stronger and contribute more," Welch said. "I worked really hard in the offseason, and also played club ball, which helps because it's good competition."
Shook and Welch playing at a high level together has been bad news for all 4A competition in Mesa Ridge's way.
The Grizzlies are 17-1 (with their lone loss coming to 5A Grandview) and 9-0 in 4A Colorado Springs Metro League play, which has continued a tradition of dominance that started four seasons ago. The program is 47-2 in its past 49 conference games.
"There's obviously only one Kylie, but we have several girls who have stepped up and are playing big roles on the team," Beatty said. "We've had five different players who have scored 20 or more points in a game, which gives us a lot of options. We're way different than two years ago, because that team relied on defense, but this team is much better offensively."
The Grizzlies are currently ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press 4A poll, behind only fellow area team Sand Creek. The focus and motivation for this team is simple.
"We want to win another state title for Kylie and the seniors," Welch said. "Her mark will always be here, and this team will be better in the future because of how hard she's made us work. She rubs off on us, and she's helped to make me a better leader.
"It's really important for us to send her off with another state championship. That's a huge goal."
See complete article here: