All the Eagles needed was some heat to get them to play their game.
The Chargers gave them what they wanted.
Chatfield took a 27-26 lead at halftime in the Jan. 18 girls basketball game against Dakota Ridge, but that’s just what the Eagles were looking for to find their inspiration.
The Eagles put themselves into gear in the second half and went on to a 69-49 victory in the Class 5A Jefferson County League league opener for both schools.
“We definitely didn’t think they’d be leading (at halftime),” said Dakota Ridge senior Lindsi Holm. “But I don’t think we came out like we could’ve come out.”
In fact, both teams came out flat in the first quarter. No one could hang onto the ball as it kept being tossed out of bounds over the tips of fingers and bouncing off the tops of shoes.
Dakota Ridge (1-0 league, 12-2 overall) only had a one-point lead at the end of the first quarter, 15-14. But, the Eagles went ahead 26-20 late in the second as they pressured the Chargers on both ends of the court.
However, a quick four points from Kelley Pickens and Dilan Sutliff had the Chargers (0-1, 7-7) trailing by just two. Sutliff then sank a 3-pointer with just 20 seconds left in the half to give Chatfield the one-point lead.
The lead really didn’t come as any surprise to Chatfield coach Jeff Mages, who has encouraged his team to play with heart.
“We talked about how you’ve gotta dream big to make anything happen,” Mages said. “We’re still coming together as a team too, but I also think losing Danae really hurt us in the second half. Losing a starter like that is tough.”
Danae Morton, a junior forward, went out early in the first quarter with an ankle sprain. After a layup, she looked like she came down wrong and then didn’t get up immediately. She was helped off the court.
In the third quarter, Holm found her own game. She scored 12 of her 20 points in that quarter alone. She hit a 3-pointer in the first couple of seconds of the third.
“(At halftime) coach said we weren’t rebounding and we needed to pick up our momentum,” Holm said. “We needed to start playing our game.”
Dakota Ridge’s Brooke Pendergraft also found her stride in the third. She scored seven of her 15 points in the quarter.
Behind Holm and Pendergraft, the Eagles soared to a 46-35 lead by the end of the third.
After a few back-and-forth baskets in the fourth, Dakota Ridge went on an 8-0 run with the help of key free-throw shooting. After Holm sunk her final two foul shots of the fourth, the score stood 62-41.
The Chargers tried to grab some points from the free throw line but were unable to capitalize in the final minutes.
“I don’t think we handled the adrenaline as well as they did,” said Mages. “We missed three layups off the bat in the second half and we just have to be able to handle that kind of excitement. They had relentless pressure and we just couldn’t answer.”
Jennelle Branting added 14 points for the Eagles. Chrissy Armstrong led Chatfield with 13 points, Kelley Pickens had 12 and Sutliff chipped in 10.