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Girls Basketball: Cougars offense comes to life at Roughrider Shootout


Last updated 1/13/2017 at Noon

Photo by Jocelyn Rowley Niwot's Shelby Stevens shoots a free throw against Conifer.

Niwot head coach Terri Ward didn’t expect any miracles from her team at Roosevelt High’s Roughrider Shootout last weekend. In fact, between illness, injury, and last minute schedule changes, she considered it a miracle that she even had enough players to field a team.

So no one was more surprised than Ward when the Cougars not only won two of their three games, but did so by the largest margins of the season.

“I’ll be honest; the teams we played weren’t that great,” said the coach. “But…we have our moments.”

The six-team tournament, originally scheduled to be played over three days, was compressed to two days due to the Jan. 5 snow day. Niwot also went into the tournament without the services of junior Rosie Setter, who tore her ACL in the game against Greeley Central, and will miss the rest of the season.

Despite these setbacks, the Cougars opened on Friday with a 60-25 victory over the winless Steamboat Springs Sailors, who entered the tournament averaging less than 30 points-per-game.

With a season-high 19 points, including 9-of-10 from the free throw line, junior Mary Gillett led the Cougars to their highest scoring total since their opening night against Frederick. Senior YY Chen and junior Shelby Stevens added 10 apiece, while sophomore center Zoe Gonzales had eight.

Back in action on Saturday morning, Niwot faced off against the Pueblo County Hornets, but couldn’t match the prior day’s offensive output. The Cougars kept pace with the Hornets through the first half, but couldn’t stop the Hornets in the third quarter. Despite scoring 20 points in the fourth quarter, Niwot fell to Pueblo County 55-45.

Despite the loss, Niwot continued to show signs of improvement on offense. Two Cougars, Chen (14) and Grant (10), reached double-digits in scoring, while Gillett was close behind with nine points, including seven at the free-throw line.

Niwot’s offense came roaring back in the team’s third and final game of the tourney, against the Conifer Lobos. In their best offensive performance to date, the Cougars rolled over the Lobos 61-34. Gillett was once again the Cougars’ top scorer, with 17 points. Gonzales had 15 on the afternoon, including 10 in the first quarter alone, while Grant hit five free throws on her way to 11 points.

Ward was pleased to see her team finally live up to its scoring potential, even if aggressive defense remains a key factor in the team’s success.

“It was a good combination on both sides of the ball,” said Ward of the team’s performance.

Ward was also pleased with the emergence of Gillett as an offensive weapon.

“Mary’s stepping up and doing some nice things for us,” said Ward. “She’s being aggressive in driving and taking the ball to the basket.”

Ward said she will be looking to her varsity veterans such as Gillett to fill the leadership vacuum left by Setter’s absence.

“I can’t downplay her loss,” said the coach of the forward. “She’s really our vocal leader, and a huge presence on our team.”

The team will also be without junior guard Alli Mercier, who will be sidelined for up to two weeks with an ankle injury she suffered in the game against Pueblo County. To fill the vacancies, Stevens will become a full-time member of the varsity squad, and Ward said she plans to rely on junior varsity players to fill in as needed.

Ward admitted that losing Setter and Mercier was a cause for concern, but she remained optimistic about her team’s prospects going into conference play.

“The teams in our league are pretty evenly matched,” she explained. “I don’t see one team dominating.”

Ward also said she believes her team will be able to use the tournament performance as a template for success down the stretch.

“When we get the ball and run, we’re good,” said Ward. “Playing defense and running. Those are our keys to success.”

The Cougars faced cross-town rival Longmont on Jan. 10, and will be back on the road at Mountain View on Jan. 12.

(1/3) — Greeley Central 47, Niwot 34

Niwot 10 4 7 13 — 34

Greeley Central 14 14 13 6 — 47

YY Chen 3 0-0 8, Zoe Gonzales 3 1-2 7, Rosie Setter 2 3-5 7, Mary Gillett 2 2-5 6, Sophie Grant 2 0-0 4, Alli Mercier 1 0-0 2 Totals 13 6-12 34.

(1/6) — Niwot 60, Steamboat Springs 25

Niwot 17 14 17 12 — 60

Steamboat Springs 5 7 2 11 — 25

Mary Gillett 5 9-10 19, YY Chen 2 5-8 10, Shelby Stevens 4 2-6 10, Zoe Gonzales 4 0-0 8, Sophie Grant 1 4-7 6, Mel Martinez 2 0-0 4, Alli Mercier 1 0-0 2, Divya Bhat, 0 1-2 1 Totals 19 21-33 60.

(1/7) — Pueblo County 55, Niwot 45

Niwot 12 7 6 20 — 45

Pueblo County 12 7 18 18 — 55

YY Chen 5 2-4 14, Sophie Grant 5 0-1 10, Mary Gillett 1 7-17 9, Zoe Gonzales 4 0-1 8,

Allie Colvin 1 0-1 2, Divya Bhat 0 1-2 1, Shelby Stevens 0 1-2 1 Totals 16 11-28 45.

(1/7) — Niwot 61, Conifer 34

Niwot (5-5, 0-1) 18 10 15 18 — 61

Conifer (1-9, 0-0) 12 5 9 8 — 34

Mary Gillett 6 4-7 17, Zoe Gonzales 6 3-5 15, Sophie Grant 3 5-7 11 , YY Chen 3 0-0 7, Shelby Stevens 2 1-2 5, Divya Bhat 1 0-0 2, Allie Colvin 1 0-0 2, M. Ricciardello 1 0-0 2, Totals 23 13-21 61.


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