Dakota Ridge girls return to Sweet 16

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Eagles get a career-high 23 points from Magana to defeat Liberty

By Michael Hicks

 LITTLETON — Mallory Magana scored a career-high 23 points, and Dakota Ridge had four players in double figures as the 15th-seeded Eagles pulled away from No. 18 Liberty for a 69-47 girls basketball victory Friday night at Dakota Ridge High School.

With the second-round 5A state playoff victory, Dakota Ridge (15-9) will face Jeffco rival Lakewood, a 75-40 winner over Vista Ridge on Friday night, in the Sweet 16 on Tuesday night. The Tigers (21-3) won the conference title by a game over Ralston Valley. During the regular season, Lakewood swept Dakota Ridge, including an 83-31 thrashing in the regular-season finale.

The Eagles are looking for their first trip to the Great Eight since 2014 when they fell to eventual state runner-up Fossil Ridge

Magana had 17 of her 23 points in the first half. She made four 3-pointers for the game — equaling the same number of 3s she’s made in the Eagles’ previous nine games combined

“I hadn’t been shooting a lot of 3s lately,” the sophomore said. “My coach told me that ‘You’re going to need to score more.’ So I just started shooting.”

Dakota Ridge closed the first quarter on a 6-0 run — part of 10 straight points between the first and second quarters — to lead 15-12. The Eagles never trailed again.

Dakota Ridge led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter and 22 by game’s end. Liberty did get within six points late in the third quarter after going on a 13-2 surge of its own, but Magana banked in a 3-pointer to close the quarter. The Eagles later closed the game on a 12-3 run.

“It’s OK to make mistakes. That’s the best thing about basketball. You can make a mistake and then sit around and get a rebound or make a play that erases that in a way,” said senior Skylar Lodice, who scored 10 points, as did guard Sydney Daniels. Sophomore Emily Doolittle added 12 points. “You have to minimize your mistakes, capitalize on what you did great and keep the game going.”That’s what Dakota Ridge did in pulling away in the fourth quarter.

Jayda Lyon led Liberty (18-7) with 13 points. Jordan Valentine added 11 points and Morgan Sibley scored 10. The Lancers had won six of their previous seven games.