GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. (CBS4) – Jana Van Gytenbeek is the reigning Class 5A Player of the Year – and that’s just the one honor in a long list of accolades for the senior point guard at Cherry Creek High School.
In the 2019 5A State Championship Game, Van Gytenbeek hit a floating bank shot in the final seconds of the game to break a tie with the heavily-favored Grandview Wolves. The shot helped lift Creek to its first ever girls basketball state title.
“To be part of that team was the coolest thing ever. We all wanted it. We’ve always wanted to do it for Creek and for our community,” Jana said.
Jana wanted that title for her school and for her team – not for herself. She is a true team player, as evidenced by how she plays her game. She has more than 500 assists in her high school career and hopes to reach 600 before her time at Creek comes to an end.
“I really like passing. I try to pride myself on getting people open shots,” Van Gytenbeek said.
“She’s much happier with an assist than she is with a bucket,” Tony Van Gytenbeek said.
Jana’s parents, Tony and Carol, know their daughter’s game inside and out, because they are at every game – although they support Jana in very different ways. Tony watches from above, meticulously tracking Jana’s stats and watching every last detail on the court. Carol is front and center, in the thick of it.
“All the stuff that happens up close, I can really see all of that. But Tony likes to be up top where he can see the whole game develop,” Carol said.
“My wife makes me nervous because she’s hooting and hollering,” Tony joked.
“They’re always there for me. They’re my biggest supporters. If I’m ever freaking out, I can just look over at my mom or dad, and it calms me down,” Jana said.
After graduation, Jana will take her talents to the PAC-12 as a Stanford Cardinal.
“It’s been my dream school ever since I can remember. The environment and everyone there is the most amazing group of people you’ll ever met. They push you and work you and expect the best from you, and I really like that,” Jana said.
At Stanford, Jana will reunite with her close friend and one of Colorado’s most prolific high school ball players, Fran Belibi.
“Fran is one of my best friends. I committed before her, so I was really excited when she committed,” Jana said.