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‘Starters,’ defense help Eagles to pull away from Rebels

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By Craig Harper
For the Courier
When Dakota Ridge head coach Doug Maier opted to begin the Jan. 10 home game against Columbine with three regular underclass starters on the bench for the annual “Think Pink’’ night, he knew his team might be in for a rough start.
“I wanted to give some seniors a chance to start tonight,” Maier said. “Of course, that means you might have to dig out of a hole. But it’s the right thing to do. Tonight was a special night for the seniors so we needed to do that.”
Sure enough, Columbine built a 17-11 lead late in the first quarter behind its tandem of juniors Carly Perry and Bridget Snow, who combined for 15 of those points.
But Maier reunited his regular starters and switched up pressure defensive tactics a bit, a combination that turned a tight game into a 10-point Dakota Ridge advantage at halftime and, eventually, a 64-43 victory that kept the Lady Eagles unbeaten in 5A Jeffco League play at 4-0 and pushed them to 7-3 overall.
“We decided go with a triangle-and-two a couple times as well as another junk zone that I like to use because (Perry and Snow) were extremely effective,” Maier said. “When we stopped them down, that gave us quite a good run.”
Dakota Ridge narrowed Columbine’s lead to 17-15 at the end of the first quarter, then limited the Lady Rebels (4-5, 1-3) to one field goal while forcing 11 turnovers in an 18-6 second quarter. Perry, who had nine points in the first quarter, managed 10 the rest of the game while Snow, who had six in the first period, finished with 14.
“It was rough,” first-year Columbine coach Shannon Vigil said of the second quarter. “It’s not that we didn’t have good shots. We had them in the paint, we’ve just got to execute better. They’re a headstrong team, they’re a savvy team. But they’re definitely a team we can hang with. We just didn’t have our best game.”
Eventually, Dakota Ridge’s strong inside game featuring Jae Ferrin, Lauren Wood and Jessica LeBaron wore down Columbine. The trio combined for 49 points behind Wood’s 19, a season-high 16 from LeBaron and 14 from Ferrin, who was 7-of-11 from the floor including the Lady Eagles’ lone 3-point basket. Wood had 12 rebounds and Ferrin eight.
The lone non-senior of the three, LeBaron, who had averaged 3.9 points, came off the bench because of the revised starting lineup but still scored nine points in the first half for just her second double-figures scoring game of the season.
Vigil is trying to turn things around and believes the Lady Rebels are making good progress.
“Our schedule’s been tough. Our first four games were the three top teams in the league,” Vigil said of losses that included Lakewood and Ralston Valley. “That in many ways can be demoralizing to the girls, so we’re looking forward to this next stretch of league play.
“But I am happy. The girls only won seven games last year and we’ve already won four and most of our season’s still ahead of us. We need to develop an inside presence, but I think that’ll come with time. We’re a young team still, and we’ll get there.”