CENTENNIAL — Had the seventh-seeded Chatfield Chargers managed to upset second-seeded Arapahoe on Feb. 27, people probably would have hailed it as one of the bigger surprises in recent Class 5A girls state tournament history.
In reality, it would not have been that far fetched.
While the Warriors did do what people expected by defeating the Chargers 66-53 in the second round of the tournament at Sitting Eagle Gymnasium, the Chargers showed had they just played a little better, things could have been a lot different.
“I was proud of them. They battled,” Chargers coach Mike Deutsch said.
The Chargers (13-12) never backed down in the first half and probably would have continued in the second half, if not for an unfortunate injury to junior center Chrissy Armstrong. Armstrong was taken away in an ambulance after she took a knock to the back of the head while going for a loose ball 33 seconds into the third quarter.
With Chatfield’s leading rebounder out, the Warriors (20-3) got two key parts of their game rolling. They put more pressure on the Chargers’ backcourt, forcing numerous turnovers and easy baskets, and outrebounded Chatfield in the frontcourt.
“They hurt us on the boards, and that’s where we miss Chrissy,” Deutsch said.
Armstrong had no points in the first half but had six rebounds.
Dilan Sutliff made four 3-pointers to lead the Chargers with 16 points. Guard Kate Kurtenbach scored 10 and senior Chelsea O’Brien had eight points and seven rebounds.
The Chargers trailed 24-20 at halftime, only for the Warriors to pull away after the lengthy injury timeout. The Warriors were up 29-20 with 6:19 left in the third quarter and stretched their lead to 42-27 by late in the frame.
Behind Sutliff and O’Brien, the Chargers still outrebounded the Warriors in the third quarter, but the home team seemed to get the key rebounds, the shot blocks and the trips to the foul line.
There was one sequence that stuck in Deutsch’s mind, when the Chargers got five shots and four offensive rebounds in one sequence and managed no points.
“You can’t ask for anything more. I mean, they battled, they got their opportunities, they just didn’t fall,” Deutsch said.
The Chargers connected on nine 3-pointers in the game, but five of those came in the fourth quarter when they trailed by as many as 16 points.
Chatfield’s worst statistic was its turnovers. The Chargers committed 26 turnovers, compared to just eight by the Warriors.
“They put a lot of pressure on us and I think they got panicked,” Deutsch said. “I think that’s what really changed it.”
It was the second time Arapahoe defeated the Chargers this season. Chatfield, which started its season 1-6, lost by nine to the Warriors on Dec. 6.
Chatfield: Kurtenbach 4 0-0 10, Sutliff 6 0-0 16, O’Brien 4 0-2 8, Morton 2 2-2 7, Armstrong 0 0-0 0, Hanna 0 0-0 0, Smart 1 0-2 2, Kotulak 2 0-0 4, Kules 1 0-0 3, Howard 1 0-0 3. Totals 21 2-6 53.
3-point goals: Sutliff 4, Kurtenbach 2, Morton, Kules, Howard.