Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley
sports@lhvc.com 

Girls Basketball: Defense steps up in road win against Skyline

 

December 22, 2016

Photo by Ed Navarro Niwot’s Alli Mercier brings the ball up the court against Berthoud.

The Niwot girls’ basketball team returned to its defensive roots last Tuesday night, as the Cougars cruised to a 47-34 victory against cross-town rival Skyline. Employing a full-court press, Niwot forced 28 turnovers, and held the Falcons to their second-lowest point total of the year.

For head coach Terri Ward, it was important to remind the team where their strengths lie.

“We hadn’t been playing great defense,” Ward said, “so we started emphasizing and talking about it in practice.”

The strategy paid off, but defense wasn’t the entire story of the game. The Cougars set a quick pace early, and finally broke their first-half scoring slump, putting up 11 points in the first quarter, and adding another 13 in the second, to take a 24-15 advantage into the break. Niwot kept up the pressure in the second half, scoring another 23 points to Skyline’s 19.

Sophomore Zoe Gonzales led all scorers with 12 points on the night, while juniors Mary Gillett (8) and Sophie Grant (9) combined for another 17.

Junior forward Rosie Setter had her highest scoring game of the season, going 5-for-8 from the line on the way to nine points. Senior guard YY Chen chipped in another five, including one of the team’s two three-pointers. Still, Ward credits the team’s defense for keeping the Falcons out of their rhythm.

“It’s hard to win the game when you turn the ball over 28 times,” she said.

Three days later, the team traveled to Berthoud to face a 4-3 Spartans squad that has averaged more than 50 points per game. The Cougar defense was sturdy once again, holding the high-flying Spartans to just 40 points, but their offense went back into hibernation. Niwot scored a season low 32 points, and shot an abysmal 18 percent from the floor.

Gonzales had the season’s first double-double, scoring 13 points and nabbing 11 rebounds. She was 5-of-8 from the free throw line, her best performance of the season.

No other Cougars scored more than three points on the night. Grant, who left the game in the second half with an injury, was just 1-of-8 from the line, scoring just three points. Junior Shelby Stevens came off the bench to get three, while junior Allie Colvin extended her three-pointer streak, hitting her eighth of the season.

Ward was straightforward in her prescription for the team’s offensive woes.

“We need to make free throws,” she said. “We go to the free-throw line 25 to 30 times a game, but when you only make 11…”

On defense, however, the Cougars were once again solid. Junior Allie Mercier had four steals, and four of the team’s 10 deflections. Setter nabbed nine rebounds, and added a steal. Berthoud sophomore Sydney Meis was clearly frustrated by Gillett, who forced at least two turnovers on 5-second violations in the last minutes of the game.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to overcome the offensive drought, as Berthoud handed the Cougars their third loss of the season, 40-32.

The Cougars played their last game of the year at the Pepsi Center, where they faced the undefeated Skyview Wolverines (6-0). The team is off for the holidays, and be back on the court Jan. 3 at home against Greeley Central.

(12/13) — Niwot 47, Skyline 34

Niwot (2-2, 0-0) 11 13 11 12 — 47

Skyline (4-2, 0-0) 6 9 8 11 — 34

Alli Mercier 0 1-2 1, Allie Colvin 1 0-0 3, Rosie Setter 2 5-8 9, YY Chen 2 0-0 5, Meah Ricciardello 0 0-0 0, Mary Gillett 3 2-3 8, Zoe Gonzales 6 0-3 12, Sophie Grant 3 3-8 9, Mel Martinez 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 11-24 47.

(12/16) — Berthoud 40, Niwot 32

Niwot (2-3, 0-0) 11 7 7 7 — 32

Berthoud (5-3, 0-0) 13 14 7 6 — 40

Alli Mercier 0 2-2 2, Allie Colvin 1 0-0 3, Rosie Setter 1 0-0 2, YY Chen 0 2-4 2, Meah Ricciardello 1 0-0 2, Mary Gillett 1 0-2 2, Zoe Gonzales 4 5-8 13, Sophie Grant 1 1-8 3, Shelby Stevens 0 3-4 3. Totals 9 13-28 32.

 

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