Jana Van Gytenbeek Won First State Title, Now Wants First 3x3 U18 Championship
Coloradoan Jana Van Gytenbeek wants to make her state proud, but it seems as though she’s already accomplished that.
“It gives me goosebumps every time,” Van Gytenbeek said.
Those goosebumps come from watching videos of the game-winning basket she made in the remaining seconds of the 2019 Colorado Class 5A Girls Basketball state championship game. The basket that gave Cherry Creek High School its first ever girls basketball state title.
The Bruins defeated Grandview High School, the two-time defending state champion, 51-49, on March 9.
“That was one of the coolest environments I’ve ever been in in my life,” Van Gytenbeek said. “We were down basically the whole game by double digits, and then we finally started making runs. A bunch of my teammates had really clutch baskets to get us back up there, and then my coach was like, ‘We need one shot.’”
The shot that coach Clint Evans and the Bruins needed was exactly what they got.
Now, the 5-foot-7 junior guard and CHSAA 5A Player of the Year has another chance to make Colorado proud this weekend. She will compete in the USA Basketball 3x3 U18 National Championships at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for the third time, alongside some of her future Stanford University teammates.
Van Gytenbeek, Fran Belibi, Cameron Brink and Avery VanSickle will make up Team Denver, all but Brink, who is from Beaverton, Oregon, are from the Denver area, or near to it.
“We all know exactly how each other plays, so I know it’s going to be really fun,” Van Gytenbeek said.
Belibi and Brink also are Stanford commits and played together on the 2018 USA Basketball U17 World Cup Team. Belibi and VanSickle, who is undecided on which college she will attend, play together at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colorado.
“They have this really good connection,” Van Gytenbeek said. “Avery is an amazing shooter, so it’s fun to play with her because if I get her a wide open shot she’ll always make it. We’re all really close.”
Despite their connections with each other, the four athletes have never played together on a team. Van Gytenbeek and VanSickle played together in the 2018 USA Basketball 3x3 U18 National Championships as a part of Team Denver. They finished in third place with a record of 5-1. In 2017, Belibi, Van Gytenbeek and VanSickle competed on Team Denver and finished in second place.
Van Gytenbeek is mostly looking forward to the environment at the U.S. Olympic Training Center this weekend, where she says all the high-level competition motivates her and makes her want to play better.
The amount of competition will just be another opportunity for Van Gytenbeek to prepare for her senior season at Cherry Creek, where she hopes to lead the team to its goals of another state championship, a league championship, and becoming the best defensive team in the state.
Following her graduation in 2020, Van Gytenbeek will begin her college career at Stanford, something she’s been dreaming of since the fifth grade.
“When I was in fifth grade, I did a camp at Stanford,” she said. “It kind of became my dream school from then on. I was really young, but everyone I knew talked about Stanford being a great school.”
Van Gytenbeek explained that when Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer expressed she wanted her to play for Stanford, it was an easy decision.
“I was like, ‘I’m playing for you. This is what I’ve wanted,’” Van Gytenbeek said. “The girls are amazing, everyone on the team carries themselves in a way that’s really special, especially with how happy and team-oriented they are.”
And while she has not yet decided on a major, the academics portion is something she’s equally as excited for.
“I enjoy school and being surrounded by everybody who enjoys school, as well as those who can work hard,” Van Gytenbeek said. “You’re constantly pushed and you want to be better. I think it’s going to help me a lot for my future in working and in basketball.”
USA Basketball 3x3 U18 National Championships
The 2019 USA 3x3 U18 Nationals will be held April 13-14 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, and will feature 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams competing for their respective 3x3 U18 national titles. In addition to the lure of a national championship, the event also will serve as the 2019 USA Basketball Men’s and Women’s 3x3 U18 National Team trials, and all competing athletes will be in consideration for the selection to the men’s and women’s 2019 USA 3x3 U18 World Cup Teams.