CASTLE ROCK — Jeff Mages didn’t know how his young squad would look in its first game back since the winter break.
Apparently, they grew up a little bit more.
The Chargers, who were without their two seniors, backed up a crisp start with a clinical finish Thursday night to defeat Douglas County 44-27 in a Class 5A girls basketball nonleague game and – perhaps more importantly – impress their coach.
Chatfield (5-4) never trailed, carved out an early 10-point lead and pushed it to 19 points in the fourth quarter behind a press-breaking transition game that saw points from seven different players.
“I always say I’d rather shoot 10-footers than free throws,” Mages said. “I don’t have a lot of trust in free throws. I’d rather push the floor and take our chance with a layup.”
Freshman guard Cassandra Hanna led the balanced Chargers with 10 points, including two 3-pointers. Chelsea O’Brien and Chrissy Armstrong scored eight points each and Danae Morton and Dilan Sutliff added seven apiece.
The Huskies (5-4) made just nine baskets and shot 20 percent from the floor, which provided plenty of rebounds the taller Chargers were happy to collect.
Morton grabbed seven of her 14 boards in the fourth quarter while Armstrong finished with 10 rebounds and blocked one shot. Chatfield outrebounded the Huskies 45 to 24.
“It feels good because this is like our first win in three games,” said Morton, a junior.
The Chargers were without seniors Ali Grush and Kelley Pickens, who were both still vacationing, but had no trouble getting down to business.
Chatfield closed the first quarter on two free throws by Armstrong and a 14-4 lead the Huskies would have a tough time cracking until early in the fourth quarter.
Holding a 30-20 advantage entering the final eight minutes, Douglas County cut its deficit to seven on a 3-pointer from the left side of the arc by Katherine Drake. Drake led the Huskies with 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
The Chargers, however, never flinched, despite turning the ball over 23 times.
Sutliff and guard Natalie Smart would hit transition jumpers before freshman Kate Kurtenbach’s steal that saw her maintain her dribble as she fell to floor, only to pop up and hit a layup to make it 36-23 with 5:47 remaining.
O’Brien swished a short baseline jumper 20 seconds later to give Chatfield a comfortable 15-point advantage.
“If we had played that way the whole game it would have been a 40-point game,” Morton said.
Douglas Co. 4-6-10-7—27
Chatfield: Hanna 3 2-2 10, Morton 3 1-3 7, Sutliff 3 0-0 7, O’Brien 4 0-0 8, Armstrong 2 4-6 8, Smart 1 0-0 2, Kurtenbach 1 0-1 2, Kotulak 0 0-1 0, Howard 0 0-0 0, Kules 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 7-13 44.
3-point goals: Hanna 2, Sutliff; Drake 2.