With many on the Dakota Ridge girls basketball team seeing their first significant playoff minutes, you had to wonder if nerves would be an issue.
A 25-0 run in the first half answered any questions about postseason jitters as the No. 5 Eagles routed the No. 12 Mustangs of Mountain Range 54-24 Feb. 25 at Dakota Ridge High School.
The win propelled the Eagles into a second round rematch against No. 4 George Washington in the Alice Barron Region on Feb. 27.
The Patriots, who beat the Eagles (14-11) earlier in the season in a nonleague game, won again, 47-45 to eliminate Dakota Ridge from the postseason.
Dakota Ridge’s leading scorer, Janelle Baal, was held to just six points against George Washington. Brooke Orcutt and Jaime Brandhorst picked up the scoring slack, combining for 29 points.
“I thought we handled the playoff atmosphere well,” said Orcutt, a sophomore who scored eight points against Mountain Range. “We got off to a fast start and I think that helped calm everyone down and allowed us to get into a good rhythm.”
After struggling early in the year, a big part of the Eagles’ turnaround was due to their renewed dedication to the defensive end.
Their defensive intensity helped fuel their first half offensive charge as their press created 13 first half turnovers.
“We’ve improved a lot on defense,” Orcutt said. “It saves our butt a few times (Feb. 25). That’s where we get our energy from and it gets the crowd excited and helps everyone get into the game.”
The Eagles went from a 4-2 lead to a 29-2 advantage midway through the second quarter. Most of the baskets came off fast break opportunities, while Brandhorst and Baal each knocked down a 3-pointer.
Sarah Fine scored consecutive layups to punctuate the run, giving the Eagles a 27-point lead.
Dakota Ridge’s intensity waned a little in the third quarter, but they rebounded in the fourth, outscoring Mountain Range 16-9.
Brandhorst led Dakota Ridge with 13 points.
The only negative coming out of the Mountain Range game was a left ankle injury to senior Elisa Schauer.
Schauer had the ankle taped and iced and was walking around on crutches after the game. Despite the grim outlook, Schauer was able to suit up and play against George Washington.