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I remember an old friend going to great lengths to describe how closely he’d gotten to watch The Drive, John Elway and the Denver Broncos’ franchise-defining moment. He went into great detail, describing the incredible seats he’d had to see the whole thing. Finally a frustrated listener amongst us asked us how early he’d traveled to Cleveland to watch it. The storyteller had forgotten the whole event took place at Municipal Stadium, not Mile High. He’d “imagined” himself into the whole thing, an easy fantasy to fall into, romanticizing your spot in a historical moment. It’s an easy malaise, and people joke about how many people remember being at something unforgettable, like the inordinate amount of Toronto citizens who just so happened to attend the night that Kobe put up 81, or the number of Nuggets fans who witnessed Nikola Jokic’s fastest triple-double, even thought it happened in Milwaukee.
It makes you wonder how many people will eventually claim to have been in South Denver last Saturday night to see Keilani Venegas-Alvarez and the Kennedy Commanders play Hinkley in Girls 5A Basketball. What the team did was impressive. What Keilani did… well, here’s a few of her words about it…
That’s right. 64 points for Ms. Venegas-Alvarez, shattering an almost two-decade old CHSAA scoring record. Keilani had 34 of her points in the first half alone, leading her team to a completely one-sided shellacking of the Thunderbirds, 104-6.
To put Keilani’s scoring outburst into context, her total matched Giannis Antetokounmpo’s career high set this season. It would tie her for 26th all-time on the NBA’s scoring list, and would outscore the WNBA all-time mark by nine points.
As a team captain, Venegas-Alvarez has averaged over 13 points in her four-year career at Kennedy, a total that has blossomed to a 21 ppg average in her senior season. You imagine that her recent outburst might at least catch a few eyes of college scouts, who will not only love the consistency, but also the ability to score that many points in any single contest ever, especially in a 32-minute game. That’s right, even if Keilani had played every single minute of the contest, she’d have held a 2 points-per-minutes clip. Astounding at any level.
But if a tree ever fell in a forest without making much sound, it was Keilani’s emphatic Saturday night outburst. When the news leaked out enough for CBS to cover her, and the amazing Vic Lombari to share the tweet above, the interview footage was from the Commanders’ next game, where Venegas-Alvarez was yet again the Player of the Game for her side… in a seven point effort via a 58-25 thumping they took from Denver North. Such is the life of a CHSAA superstar, or even a professional superstar, for that matter. Some weeks you’re the shark, and some weeks you’re the bait.
The rest of the footage CBS shares from the game shows a barely there visitors side, but also relays the sound of how few people were even on the home side to celebrate their rather astounding win with its record-breaking performance.
Which somehow makes it even more heartbreakingly astounding in ways. What was a semi-miraculous moment to witness in person – akin to something a handful of people saw live in the NBA this season – was witnessed by the smallest smattering of people, with the visitors surely just trying hard to forget the whole spectacular thing. What makes it astounding is simply that someone can put together such a head-turning moment as to make it impossible to ignore. A number so high only one Denver Nuggets player has ever topped it. Even when the crowd won’t come, if you do something so rare, that tree falls so loudly, it must be heard.
Nice job, Keilani. Hard to ignore 64.