When the pressure is on that’s when Chrissy Armstrong is at her best.
She proved it Jan. 14, knocking down 8-of-10 free throws in the final minute to help guide Chatfield to a 70-61 victory over Columbine in a Class 5A Jefferson County League game at Chatfield Senior High School.
Armstrong started her free-throw stretch with a pair of misses and Columbine brought the deficit down to four on a Randee Hayes putback with 49 seconds left. The junior forward atoned for the off-line shots as she calmly swished the rest of her attempts. Armstrong also showed a deft passing touch as she secured an offensive rebound on a Chelsea O’Brien missed free throw and passed the ball back to O’Brien for an uncontested layup with 10 seconds to go that sealed the victory.
Armstrong and O’Brien owned the paint on both ends of the floor, but their work on the offensive side really stood out as the duo combined for 38 points – 19 coming in the fourth quarter.
“We just work well together,” said Armstrong, who finished with 17 points. “We have a good sense of where the other is on the floor and we have each other’s backs.”
The Chargers buoyed by a hot-shooting first quarter, led for the entire first half and appeared on the verge of putting the game away when Danae Morton made a pair of free throws to give the team an 11-point lead. But, Columbine answered with a 13-1 run to close out the third quarter. Heather Van Halen’s layup off a Demitra Apergis assist with 1 minute, 26 seconds to play in the third gave the Rebels their first lead of the game.
It didn’t last long.
Chatfield’s Dilan Sutliff opened the fourth quarter with a layup to reclaim the lead and O’Brien, who led the Chargers (3-0 Jeffco, 6-6 overall) with 21 points, followed with a jumper to push the lead to three. Columbine’s Randee Hayes (17 points) knotted the score with a rare 3-poitner put a two threes by Sutliff gave the Chargers an eight-point lead with 3:21 to go. The lead swelled to 10 when O’Brien rebounded a missed free-throw by Morton and tipped the ball over to Armstrong for an easy layup.
The Rebels (1-2, 9-4), who struggled from the perimeter most of the night, closed the gap by attacking the basket. Layups by Ashley Hentges and Hayes had the Rebels within four with 49 seconds to play, but Armstrong’s hot shooting from the charity stripe ended any chances of a Rebel rally.
“This was a big win for the seniors to get it on our home court,” O’Brien said.
Columbine started the game off pressing the Chargers, but the press backfired as the Chargers had little trouble breaking the pressure and scoring easy layups on the other end. The Chargers led by four after the first and grew their lead to 12 thanks to a 9-0 run highlighted by a 3-pointer and layup by Kate Kurtenbach. Columbine answered right back with an 11-0 run to end the quarter. Apergis, who scored 14 points, scored five points during the stretch, including a putback off a missed shot as the Rebels trailed 31-28 at halftime.
Morton opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer and the Chargers scored 9 of the first 10 points in the quarter before Columbine started its rally.
“This is big for the girls,” Chatfield coach Mike Deutsch said. “They are playing good teams and learning how to hang with them. When Columbine made that run, before, that could’ve been a time where we would’ve become tentative, but (Jan. 14) we didn’t and we came back.
“It’s great that we won because it’s a rivalry, but I’m more pleased with the progression the girls have made.”
Columbine: Apergis 6 0-0 14, Van Halen 2 1-2 6, Maccan 3 3-3 11, Hoelsken 3 7-9 13, Hayes 6 4-6 17.
Chatfield: Kurtenbach 2 0-0 5, Hanna 2 0-0 4, Sutliff 4 0-1 10, O’Brien 8 5-8 21, Morton 4 2-3 11, Kotulak 1 0-0 2, Armstrong 3 11-14 17.
3-pt. goals: Apergis 2, Maccan 2, Van Halen, Hayes; Sutliff 2, Morton, Kurtenbach.