The Warriors join the Eagles for a photo after the game, after their Dakota Ridge competitors gave them yellow roses.
By Tom Barry
The Arapahoe girls basketball team and their fellow students and staff faced an exceptionally challenging and emotionally charged week.
At the time of the game, Claire Davis remained in critical condition in a coma at Littleton Adventist Hospital but later died on Dec. 21.
The girls’ coaches attempted to provide a rare time when the team could participate in a normal event that was encouraged by counselors one week after the tragedy.
The Arapahoe basketball team was introduced one by one, as Dakota Ridge teammates presented each player a long stemmed yellow rose to symbolize friendship before the game.
The Warriors quickly fell behind the competitive and quick Eagles team. As the game progressed, the Warriors began to gel and more of their shots began to drop through the net, catching up to the Eagles’ considerable lead. Their defensive effort also improved.
Jerry Knafelc, Arapahoe’s head coach, crouched on the floor, sat in his seat or paced up and down the bench calling out instructions to his team. He and his three assistant coaches encouraged and motivated the team throughout the contest.
In a sheer sign of determination, the Warriors worked closely as teammates and caught up to the Eagles and the Warriors eventually took the lead.
Both teams battled through the game, as the Warriors triumphed over the Eagles 60-50.
At the end of the game, Dakota Ridge’s players and coaches graciously congratulated Araphoe. Then there were hugs, smiles and some tears exchanged by Warriors teammates.
The culmination of the afternoon was when The Villager organized a group photo of the team holding their yellow friendship roses. While setting up, the Eagles team came out and joined the girls for the photo.
The night prior to the game, the Arapahoe team, parents and coaches had a small holiday gathering featuring a chocolate fountain. Some of the Warriors parents jokingly shared that the reason the girls came out sluggish was because of excessive consumption of chocolate the night before.
Eagle player Caitlin Navratil shows the yellow shoestrings the team wore to honor Claire Davis and the Warriors team.
Eagles unite for Claire
The Eagles team wore yellow shoestrings in their basketball shoes in honor of Davis and Arapahoe High School.
The Dakota Ridge community near Red Rocks, in a unified effort, raised donations at the door.
Kids from 4 years old to students and adults anteed up $5 to shoot from half court during halftime festivities. One student who made the shot received meals donated from Chick-fil-A for a year.
Revenue from the concession stands also went to the fund, as the combined effort raised more than $400 toward the Davis charities.
Shortly after the game as the players had already left, the hospital announced to the media that Davis had passed away due to the extent of her injuries.
Comments from the coach
“We just wanted to come out and represent ourselves and our school and community with a lot of passion for the game of basketball…,” said Knafelc, who had taught at Arapahoe for many years before retiring.
“They’re [the players] very resilient kids, kids anywhere, but at Arapahoe there is such a community there within the student body and outside in the greater community around there,” said Knafelc.
“…Sometimes these things happen in your life and you have to be able to press and you can’t sit around and live in victimville. You’ve got to go out and create and do the things that you’ve been put on this earth to do and we believe that, we’ve talked about it as a team…”
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