Columbine’s 40-38 victory over Douglas County might not have been the prettiest girls basketball game ever played, but the end result was all that mattered.
The win by the Rebels was their first of the season, but more importantly, it was the 300th career win for coach Jim Bartok.
“It just means I’ve been at this a long time,” said Bartok, who prior to taking over at Columbine six years ago was the head coach at Ponderosa. “I had some former players here (Friday) to watch the game, and that was nice to see them. I’ve been blessed to have some wonderful kids over the years.
“It’s been a joy and I’m glad to be here at Columbine. The kids here are terrific. They do what you ask them to do and you can’t ask for more than that. The parents are supportive and help the program any way they can. It’s been a great ride.”
The Rebels (1-1) led by as many as 13 points midway through the fourth quarter, but had to sweat out the final few moments as Douglas County outscored Columbine 13-2 down the stretch, the final points coming on a 3-pointer by Danielle Farra with 3.9 seconds remaining.
The game likely wouldn’t have been as tight had Columbine converted from the free-throw line. The Rebels were just 3-of-13 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter.
“We missed way too many free throws,” said senior Breanna Williams, whose layup midway through the fourth quarter put Columbine up 38-25. It was the final field goal of the game for Columbine. “It’s something we’ll be working on in practice.”
The rally by Douglas County overshadowed a great defensive effort by Williams, Randee Hayes and the rest of the Rebel interior players on Douglas County’s top-scorer, Katie Hilbig.
Hilbig, who averaged 13 points a game last year, was held to 11 points – five coming in the final two minutes.
“She’s a physical player,” Williams said. “Their whole team is physical. You just have to be prepared for that going in.”
Columbine’s bench also played a big part in the victory. Senior Meagan O’Leary was the team’s leading scorer with nine points (including two 3-pointers), while Lauren Lechner and Alyssa Horvat provided solid defensive play.
“Meagan played great for us,” Williams said. “We have some new players in the lineup. Meagan is probably our best bench players and she really stepped up.”
Columbine, much like rival Chatfield, is playing at less than 100 percent.
Starting point guard Alesha Estrada is out with a knee injury and forward Ellen Miks still has to sit out nine more games due to the Colorado High School Activities Association’s transfer rule. Throw in the fact that Williams, O’Leary and Randee Hayes are still working themselves into basketball shape after volleyball season, and it’s clear it might take a few weeks before the Rebels fire on all cylinders.
“I think once we get our legs underneath us, we’ll be fine,” Williams said. “We all have experience playing with each other, so even with the injuries and girls playing new roles and positions, I think we’ll be fine once we get into basketball shape.”
Demitra Apergis, a sophomore, has taken over the point for Estrada, and, despite a few turnovers, did a solid job Friday. She dished out two nice assists that led to consecutive layups by Williams and Molly Ramirez in the fourth quarter, and finished with six points.
Columbine 40, Douglas Co. 38
Douglas Co. 2-12-8-16—38
Columbine individual scoring: Meagan O’Leary 9, Randee Hayes 8, Breanna Williams 7, Demitra Apergis 6, Alyssa Maccan 5, Molly Ramirez 3, Lauren Lechner 2.