Warriors surge early to defeat Durango
If the Central High School girls basketball team were a prize fighter, Monday night’s match against Durango would have been a first-round knockout.
The Warriors (14-3, 4-0 Southwestern League) delivered early blow after early blow, cruising to a 70-32 over the Demons.
“We always talk about getting the first punch,” Central senior Haleigh Higgins said. “We finally did that, and we finished well.”
Playing in a game that was rescheduled from Jan. 23, Central pressured its way to a 12-0 run to begin the game. Higgins used her 5-foot-10 frame to control the paint. She pulled down three offensive rebounds on her way to 10 points in the first quarter.
Led by Higgins’ intensity, the Warriors jumped out to a 23-5 lead after the first quarter.
“Haleigh had a perfect game,” Central coach Todd Dixon said. “I told her she needed to score 20 tonight and she came pretty close.”
As important as Central’s senior guard Amy Kame is to the Warriors, Dixon said Higgins is crucial to the Warriors’ long-term success.
“We need that from Haleigh,” Dixon said. “We need her energy, her defensive effort, her rebounding. That’s what she did for us all last year, and she’s returning to that.”
After a big surge in the first quarter, the Warriors kept Durango on the ropes, running out to a 42-8 halftime lead. Traditionally dominated in scoring by Kame, Central spread the wealth, as Kame had only seven first-half points. The University of San Diego signee eventually heated up to finish with 18 points.
“They were very unselfish,” Dixon said. “It showed on the scoreboard, and for us to put them away like we did was a great team win for us.”
Central dominated the game in every facet. The Warriors didn’t have much trouble doing what they wanted to offensively or defensively.
“This was big because we knew they had a good record in the league,” Central senior Maddi Vana said. “I think people still underestimate us, and it was important to send a message.”
Central plays another make-up game today against Montezuma-Cortez. Because of a scheduling conflict, the game will be played at Mesa State College’s Brownson Arena. Tip-off is at 5 p.m.
After today’s game, the Warriors travel to the Four Corners area to play Durango and Cortez.
To say the least, it’s an unusual week for the players and coaches involved.
“We know what we are up against,” Dixon said. “But we have a senior-laden team, so they can separate themselves from the weirdness of playing two teams then playing them again a few days later.”
DURANGO 55, CENTRAL 44
The Central High School boys basketball team is not exactly where it wants to be. The Warriors dropped their fourth straight game, and second straight at home.
Central (6-11, 0-4 SWL) started out strong with a competitive first quarter as Durango led 14-12. The Warriors responded early in the second when Taylor Sanchez drove the lane to tie the game at 14-14. That would be as close as Central would get. Durango got hot, and began hitting contested jump-shots to take a 28-17 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, the Demons attacked the Warriors’ defense, and got to the free-throw line 10 times.
On the other side of the court, Central couldn’t seem to get anything to fall. The Warriors managed only 13 points in the second and third quarters to fall behind 44-25 heading into the fourth quarter.
“We missed too many easy ones,” Central coach Phil Cain said. “It just snowballed on us. We have to play a little harder on defense.”
Central was led by Taylor Sanchez, who finished with 16 points.
“We had to stay energized,” Sanchez said. “But we fell short.”