BOULDER – Leah DuBois is a 10-year-old basketball fanatic from Centennial who on Friday night brought a homemade sign to the CU Events Center for a women’s match against Stanford.
DuBois did not mess with Buffs. She cheered Other things Colorado team. Her colorful handwritten letters on white poster told the story: ‘Welcome home Jana, Fran and Ashten.’
“I’m so honored,” DuBois said. “It’s so cool.”
Nr. 2 Stanford gathered for a 60-52 victory to give No. 22 Buffaloes their first loss of the season. Three Cardinal players are Colorado high school products – Fran Belibi (Regis Jesuit), Jana Van Gytenbeek (Cherry Creek) and Ashten Prechtel (Discovery Canyon) – whose success as reigning college national champions has inspired a new generation of youth players at home.
“It’s very empowering,” Van Gytenbeek said. “Showing little girls that they can do this is really great. It makes me want to play even more.”
Prechtel added: “Coming back and playing Colorado is always a tough game. But it’s one of my favorites. I look forward to it every year.”
DuBois met Van Gytenbeek through a Cherry Creek basketball teammate during the Bruins’ 2019 race for a 5A state championship victory. A friendship blossomed. And now DuBois is tuning in to the livestreamed Stanford basketball game.
But she joined family and friends Friday night to see Van Gytenbeek from third row behind Stanford’s bench.
“Her tension level is above 10,” said Leah’s father, Keith DuBois. “I was actually expecting tears.”
Stanford turned against all three Colorado stars from the bench against CU. The trio combined scored 15 points on 6-of-13 shots from the floor. Van Gytenbeek drained his lone 3-point attempt. Belibi was especially active with seven rebounds. Prechtel scored 10 points and two blocks, with a pair of clutch 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
“I’m really proud of our team and we had great contributions from our three Colorado players,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “Jana came in and hit a big three. I thought Fran really helped us defensively and rebounding. … Ashten struck some big blows for us. “
The final result on Friday proved to be particularly sweet for DuBois, who was never in doubt about a Stanford victory. Cardinal players with roots in Colorado are proud to represent their state while playing for a traditional basketball powerhouse.
“It’s always nice to come home,” Belibi said. “It almost makes it feel like it’s not necessarily an away game because we’re here and this is where we grew up. … It is always an honor to find yourself in a position where you are the people you used to look up to. Seeing the signs and all the little girls coming out here (to see) makes us take a step back and remember that everything we do is bigger than basketball. ”
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