The Lady Bulldogs will travel to Sterling to compete in the 2A Region Two basketball tournament after placing third at last week's 2A District 5 tournament. Hotchkiss advanced on a pigtail win over Hayden on Feb. 26.
They entered the tournament seeded third.
With most of the crowd watching the boys' pigtail game at Paonia (see related story), the Hotchkiss gym wasn't much more rowdy than a practice session. The lack of a crowd threw the team off a bit, said post Amber Pagone. After grabbing Pagone's tip-off, senior shooting guard Alexis Westergren took the ball to the top of the three-point line and sank her shot. A minute later, point guard Natalie Anderson sank a three to give Hotchkiss a 6-0 lead.
Hotchkiss pulled out its full-court press with just under six minutes remaining in the first period, causing the Lady Tigers to lose possession under the 10-second rule.
The tone of the game was set. Hayden trailed by one early in the second, but never took the lead. Anderson joked that the team decided to show up and play some basketball about halfway through the second period.
Hotchkiss opened tournament play Friday with a 42-29 loss to No. 2-seeded Meeker. The loss sent the Lady Bulldogs into Saturday's third-place game against Rangely, a team they had defeated twice in regulation play.
Senior shooting guard Alexis Westergren's three three-pointers helped boost the Lady Bulldogs to a 40-38 win over Rangely to place third in the district. Rangely's level of play was more intense than when it lost by nine to Hotchkiss in February, said point guard Natalie Anderson. "They just stepped up and played with a lot more intensity." On Friday night, Rangely lost by four in a close match-up against No. 1-seeded Paonia. "So that was sitting in the back of our heads. They just seemed like a different team."
With three players measuring 5-foot-10-inches or taller, Rangely took advantage of its height, scoring mostly from the inside to lead 21-13 at the half. But Hotchkiss started gaining momentum after Westergren hit her first trey and the defense prevented 6-foot post Quincey Thacker from scoring inside halfway through the second. Thacker, who dominated the post position, drew a shooting foul and missed her second shot. Pagone came down with the rebound. Anderson hit another three, and post Kylie Hodges added a field goal.
"That just pumped me up and I was just ready to go," said Pagone. "It was going our way."
Pagone said the Bulldogs are used to going up against the big girls. Much of their practice focuses on guarding and getting around taller players. Early in the game, "We were messing up on our press a little bit," and not hustling back quick enough to stop Rangely from scoring, said Pagone. They made the necessary adjustments and held Rangely's two tall posts to two field goals for the period. With 17 seconds remaining in the third, they took a 26-25 lead on a three-pointer by Westergren.
Anderson fired off a perimeter shot, giving Hotchkiss a narrow 28-25 lead going into the final period.
That was a game-changer, said Anderson, but not the game-changer.
"I think it was part of it," said Anderson, crediting Westergren's three-point shot early in the second period. "Once you go from a 10-point deficit to just one, your momentum is going. I felt like things were just turning around for us."
With 1:55 remaining and the game tied at 33-all, Thacker drew a foul from Anderson and sank both shots to put the Panthers ahead. But Rangely turned the ball over on a misdirected pass and Westergren capitalized, sinking her third three-pointer to put Hotchkiss back in the lead.
Hotchkiss forced another turnover and called a timeout. Westergren drew a foul and hit one of two shots. Anderson drove the lane twice and failed to score, but pulled down two more fouls and hit three of four from the line.
Rangely called a timeout with eight seconds remaining. Thacker stepped in to score one final goal from the paint before time ran out.
Hotchkiss will travel to Northeastern Junior College in Sterling to face Limon (16-5, 6-1 Union Pacific League) in the first round of state playoffs, which open this Friday. The winners will face either Akron (22-0, 10-0 Lower Platte League) or Alexander Dawson (10-11, 5-5 Mile High League).blog comments powered by Disqus