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By Jocelyn Rowley
Sports@lhvc.com 

Girls Basketball: Improved Cougars pick up two more wins at Roughrider Shootout

 

January 11, 2018

Jocelyn Rowley

Senior Divya Bhat takes the ball upcourt against Woodland Park at the Roughrider Shootout on Jan. 4.

It would have been hard to picture a month ago, but the Niwot girls basketball team is on a bit of a hot streak.

Since their 74-17 pummeling at the hands of Greeley Central on Dec. 8, the Cougars have regrouped, and their renewed focus on discipline and teamwork has started to pay dividends in the form of wins. After picking up another two last weekend’s Roughrider Shootout at Roosevelt, the Cougars improved to 4-6 on the year, and will be heading into the heart of their conference schedule with some well-earned momentum.

“I like the direction we’re headed and I really like the growth that I’ve seen from the start of play to where we are now,” Niwot head coach Terri Ward said after the last day of the tournament. “I think it’s pretty dramatic.”

Niwot’s newfound offensive confidence was certainly on display early on in the three-day round-robin invite. Facing Woodland Park on Jan. 4, Niwot amassed a 10-2 lead in the first six minutes, with scoring from four different Cougars, including senior Jaime Lee, who made a great move to the basket in the paint to put Niwot up by six. The Panthers caught up to Niwot in the second quarter, taking advantage of Mary Gillett’s sojourn on the bench with two fouls. Woodland Park briefly climbed to within one point, but a 7-0 by run by Niwot in the closing minutes of the half put the Cougars ahead 23-17 going into the break.

The two teams stayed neck-and-neck in the low-scoring second half, which saw Gillett continue to be in and out of foul trouble. Decent free throw shooting from senior Sophie Grant was the difference in the fourth quarter, and the Cougars held on to win 35-29. Grant led all scorers with nine points, followed by sophomore center Marlowe Baines with eight and Rosie Setter with six.

Up against winless Steamboat Springs on day two of the Roughrider Shootout, Niwot took advantage of an inexperienced Sailor defense to once again stretch its offense. Eight different Cougars scored in the 46-20 blowout, including senior Divya Bhat, who drained a three-pointer at the first quarter buzzer, much to the delight of her teammates and coach.

“I wasn’t planning on taking that three,” she said afterwards. “But then I got the chance, and I just put it up. Then, after my teammates congratulated me, it felt even better.”

The Cougars faced their toughest test of the Shootout on Jan. 6 against Pueblo County, and for eight minutes, they looked like world-beaters. With Baines and Lee joining the starting lineup, an aggressive Niwot squad jumped out to a six-point advantage in the first 90 seconds, due mostly to the efforts of Gillett, who had eight of her 17 points in the first quarter.

Niwot held a 15-7 lead after one quarter, but Rosie Setter, an integral part of the Cougars’ defensive scheme, was waiting out two fouls on the bench to start the second period. The Hornets took advantage of the mismatch, taking the lead with four minutes to go in the half. There was more foul trouble ahead for the Cougars, and the Hornets’ eight-point halftime lead grew to 14 at the end of the third quarter. Unable to dig themselves out of their hole, Niwot limped on to a 68-48 loss.

“That was probably the best start we’ve had in a long time,” Ward said after her team’s first loss since Dec. 15. “The thing that killed us was the second quarter when I had six of the ten on the bench with two fouls.”

“I knew coming in that we had to play a perfect game,” she continued. “Getting into foul trouble hurt us. Some second-chance opportunities hurt us as well. But, if we play this hard and do the things well that we did this game, a lot more good is going to come out of this season than bad.”

With her team’s recent success, Ward is optimistic about their chances in the Northern League down the stretch.

“Heading into conference, this is where we want to be, with some momentum going,” she said. “I’m feeling pretty good about the majority of what we’re doing. I think we all are.”

The Cougars take on cross-town rival Longmont on Jan. 9, then head back home to face Mountain View on Jan. 11 (rescheduled from Jan. 12), and then Thompson Valley on Jan. 16.

(1/4) —Niwot 35, Woodland Park 29

Panthers (3-3, 1-0) 9 8 12 0 — 29

Cougars (3-5, 0-1) 14 9 4 8 — 35

Jocelyn Rowley

Senior Mary Gillett gets set on defense against Pueblo County at the Roughrider Shootout on Jan. 4.

Sophie Grant 3 3-4 9, Marlow Baines 4 0-0 8, Allie Colvin 2 0-0 4; Jaime Lee 1 2-2 4, Sophie Storz 1 0-0 2, Mary Gillett 0 2-2 2; Totals 14 7-8 35.

(1/5) —Niwot 46, Steamboat Springs 20

Sailors (0-9, 0-0) 0 6 5 9 — 20

Cougars (4-5, 0-1) 15 8 17 6 — 46

Sophie Grant 7 2-3 16, Mary Gillett 4 0-5 8, Marlow Baines 2 3-6 7, Lily Sieben 2 0-0 5, Divya Bhat 1 0-0 3, Jaime Lee 1 0-0 3, Rosie Setter 1 0-0 2, Nikki Sims 1 0-0 2; Totals 19 5-14 46.

 

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