Central served a wake-up call by talented Grizzlies

ThunderRidge played so fast and tough at the beginning of its game against the Central High School girls basketball team Thursday, it was hard to tell when the flashes of blue went by if the Grizzles had five or six players on the court.

And although the Grizzles didn’t lead from the get-go, it didn’t take long for them to impose their will.

Central’s Karen Hayter hit a 3-pointer to open the game, but the Warriors’ lead didn’t last.

ThunderRidge went on a 23-5 run the rest of the first quarter on their way to a 61-40 win at the Wildcat Invitational at Fruita Monument High School.

“We knew they were good, that wasn’t the surprise. I think the surprise was how good they were,” Central coach Todd Dixon said. “How good they shot, how good they posted up, just how good they really were.”

Dixon used the word shell-shocked to describe the Warriors’ first half of play. ThunderRidge hassled the Warriors into numerous turnovers and held Central to zero field goals in the second quarter. All eight Central points in the quarter came on free throws.

“They are tall, lanky and have great foot movement,” Dixon said. “It made us realize how hard we are going to have to play.”

The Grizzlies could do no wrong in the first half as 3-pointers by Mary Ludwig and Rachel Messer pushed the game to a insurmountable lead early. Messer led the Grizzles with 14 points.

Central’s top scorer, Amy Kame, was coming off of two 30-point performances and the Grizzles took notice. Constantly hounded by defenders, Kame had a difficult time driving the lane and was held to five first-half points. She found more room in the second half and finished with 16 points.

“Amy knows she is our go-to person and tonight she tried to carry the team on her back,” Dixon said. “I am very pleased with her effort.”

Haleigh Higgins added 11 points, but the Warriors didn’t have enough firepower to go blow-for-blow with a Grizzles team that had Messer, Carly Needles, Taylor McBain and Brooke Jelniker all finish with at least 12 points.

And despite outscoring the Grizzles 25-24 in the second half, it was the first half that Central couldn’t overcome. Dixon said the hole Central dug itself in the first half was because of selfish play.

“We weren’t executing our stuff, we were more like five individuals out there,” Dixon said. “For us to compete with teams of this caliber we have to know our strength is in the team and we did that in the second half.”

Dixon said the Warriors weren’t humbled by the loss as much as it was a wake-up call for the group that cruised in its first two games.

“You hate telling your kids this, but we absolutely needed this,” Dixon said. “In the two games we played up to this point, we handled the teams, and tonight we got handled. I know they are going to respond. We are going to work to be that good.”

Central plays Columbine today at 2:45. The game was originally scheduled for 7 p.m. at Central but was moved back to Fruita Monument High School. ThunderRidge will play Fruita Monument at 8 p.m.

“We are going to come out (Friday) motivated because we are mad about this one,” Hayter said.


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