From the outset, it was pretty clear what Columbine’s strategy was against girls basketball rival Dakota Ridge.
Spread the floor and let sophomore point guard Demitra Apergis drive the lane.
Janelle Baal would have none of it.
“My defense is my strong point,” said Baal, who scored 10 points for Dakota Ridge. “My goals were to not let (Apergis) get past me and not to let her get her 10 points average. Our defense as a whole was a big focus for us coming into the game.”
Baal, a junior, limited Apergis to just one field goal and seven points -- three below her 10.1 average. With Baal locking up Apergis, the rest of the Rebels, aside from Breanna Williams’ 14 points, struggled to get going as well, scoring just 14 points in the first half.
For its part, Dakota Ridge shrugged off a cool start – they took nearly three minutes to score its first point – and quickly seized control of the game with a 20-3 run, spread out over the first and second quarters, and were never really threatened the rest of the way as they picked up a pivotal 58-43 win Feb. 8 on its home floor.
“We’ve had some really hard games the past couple of weeks,” said Dakota Ridge senior, Lindsi Holm, who finished with 15 points. “We really wanted to come out (Feb. 8) and play a really good game against a team that was undefeated in league. We played really strong.”
The loss was the first in Class 5A Jefferson County League play for the Rebels (5-1 Jeffco, 10-9 overall), who now find themselves in a logjam with the Eagles (6-1, 17-3) and Lakewood (5-1, 15-4) atop the league standings.
“Things started off good,” Williams said. “Then they went on that run where they made everything. They had a really good shooting game and our shots wouldn’t fall. That really hurt us because it brought our momentum down.”
Indeed, things did start off well for Columbine. The Rebels led 5-3 midway through the first quarter following a 3-pointer by Alyssa Maccan.
Then, the wheels fell off at exactly the same time the Eagles’ tires found their tread.
Dakota Ridge finished the first quarter on a 9-2 run, then opened the second quarter outscoring Columbine 11-1. The Rebels’ slim two point lead had turned into a 15-point deficit in about eight minutes of play.
“Once we started playing as a team, passing the ball around and looking for the open shot, that’s when things started to really go well for us,” Holm said.
The 15-point advantage stayed in tact through the remainder of the opening half. Columbine did see some early success in the second half, drawing as close as nine after a 3-pointer by Williams with 5:49 to play in the third quarter.
But, the Eagles wouldn’t allow the Rebels to draw any closer. Baal continued to deny Apergis access to the lane and inside, Jenna Santistevan shut down Columbine’s leading scorer, Randee Hayes, who finished with seven points.
“Their defense was really strong,” Williams said.
Dakota Ridge led by as many as 20 points late in the fourth quarter, with Holm and the returning Brooke Pendergraft (she missed two games with a hand injury) leading the charge. The duo scored 20 of its combined 31 points in the second half.
“I’ve actually been off with my shot for a while,” Holm said. “Once I started making a few, it felt good, so I kept shooting.”
Dakota Ridge 12-17-15-14—58
Columbine: Hayes 3 1-2 7, Ramirez 2 3-6 7, Maccan 1 2-4 5, Williams 6 0-0 14, O’Leary 0 1-2 1, Miks 1 0-0 2, Apergis 1 5-6 7. Totals: 14 12-20 43
Dakota Ridge: Santistevan 2 0-0 4, Pendergraft 6 3-4 16, Holm 6 2-3 15, Callaway 1 0-0 2, Branting 1 2-3 4, Malik 3 0-0 6, Shepler 1 0-0 2, Baal 4 2-4 10. Totals: 24 9-14 58.