Indians shake off Mitchell, advance to 4A girls Great 8
PUEBLO — It took Rachel Hansen a couple bumps and body-checks to get the feel for the Sweet 16.
Once the senior point guard for Montrose was comfortable, she methodically worked the Indians into the Great 8 of the Class 4A girls state high school basketball playoffs.
Montrose, the top seed in the Brenda House Region, broke open a close game in the second half Thursday to run away from No. 4-seed Mitchell of Colorado Springs 42-31 in a Sweet 16 game at Massari Arena on the Colorado State University-Pueblo campus. The Indians (23-2) face second-seeded Mesa Ridge at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at Manual High School’s ThunderDome in Denver.
Hansen and the Indians were feeling the heat out of the gate as the physical Marauders used a full-court pressure defense. After a slow-paced first half, Montrose led 18-16.
From there, Hansen took control, the Indians’ defense intensified and they dominated the glass to outscore Mitchell by nine in the second half.
“Everybody was just really excited and had a lot of adrenaline going. Once we relaxed and started playing our game, we definitely got in the flow of things,” Hansen said. “We found the shots we knew we could make. We played as hard as we could defensively and I think that caused them to take shots they didn’t want to take.”
Hansen gave the Indians separation early in the third, making a layup and a 15-foot jumper and then dishing to Katie Abel for a 3-pointer. Hansen drove the lane again for Montrose’s final hoop of the quarter and a 28-22 lead.
The Indians hit 8 of 12 free throws and outrebounded Mitchell 11-5 in the fourth to protect the lead. Montrose killed the Marauders on the boards 34-16, including 15 on the offensive end.
“We just worked as hard as we could to get position inside,” said 6-foot-1 Montrose junior Hanna Bowden, who grabbed 12 rebounds. “It was kind of up and down, but in the second half, we really started to get into it.”
In addition to more than doubling-up Mitchell in rebounding, Montrose’s defense on leading scorer Brianna Johnson was key. Johnson finished with eight points on 4-of-10 shooting, went scoreless in the second half and committed four turnovers.
“It all starts with our defense. We struggled offensively early, but our little point guard got things going,” veteran Montrose coach John Mraule said. “Physically, they were real tough for us to play and we had to go to a zone, but we did a good job of taking care of the boards and that was a big factor.”
Glenwood Springs topped Pueblo East 56-52 in another 4A game. Glenwood Springs will play Broomfield in the Tanya Haave Region final at Metro State College at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Broomfield defeated Moffat County 69-29 on Thursday.
Special to the Sentinel