Olathe girls strengthen position in WSL
OLATHE — A fast start and strong finish Saturday gave the Olathe High School girls basketball team a key Class 3A Western Slope League victory.
With a 54-46 win over Cedaredge, the Pirates solidified their hold on second place in the talented and deep WSL.
Olathe (10-2, 7-2) came out sizzling, and when Taylor Gibson and Payton Grett hit 3-pointers followed by an 18-foot jumper from Amanda Kinterknecht, the lead was 16-5.
With a relentless half-court defense, the Pirates were contesting virtually every shot and denying entry passes, keeping the Bruins off balance on the offensive end.
The Pirates’ fast start was the difference in the game.
“When you give a team a 15-point lead going into the second quarter, it’s hard to overcome, especially against a good defensive team like Olathe,” Cedaredge coach Ryan Hilbig said.
Olathe head coach Paul Althaus said his young team, which is loaded with underclassmen, is playing well.
“The kids are figuring out each other and figuring out what it’s like to share the basketball, and they’re starting to understand the kind of skill and talent they’ve got,” he said.
Temry Rodriguez scored on a drive, and Kinterknecht hit another bucket to push the lead to 17 points midway through the second quarter.
Cedaredge (9-3, 7-2 WSL) finally found some offensive rhythm, and Mackenzie Kehmeier and Nellie Freeman drilled 3-pointers to key a 7-1 run and cut the lead to 29-18 at the half.
The Bruins turned up the defensive pressure with a full-court press in the third quarter, and it paid dividends with turnovers that led to offensive opportunities.
A Freeman 3-pointer started a 9-0 run, and after Dakota Baldozier hit a bucket off a pass from Alyssa Isaman, the score was 33-27 with 2:41 remaining in the third quarter.
Olathe scored the final five points of the quarter, then maintained the momentum to start the fourth.
A pair of pretty turnaround jumpers from Theresa Tafoya and Kinterknecht helped quash the Bruins’ rally, and Olathe pushed the lead to 14 points on a pair of free throws from Rodriguez.
Grett came up huge in Olathe’s big first quarter, scoring nine of her 11 points. Kinterknecht finished with a game-high 18 points and Tafoya added 10.
Freeman led the Bruins with 13 points and Isaman had 11.
Kinterknecht said the team is starting to jell as the season progresses.
“We’ve definitely become closer off the court, and that just carries over to practices and the games,” she said.
With such a young team, Althaus said the goal was to have them focus on the defensive end early in the season.
“We knew that we didn’t have a great deal of varsity experience and that it was going to take a little time to get where we needed to be, but we’re getting there,” he said. “Our philosophy has always been: Play the best defense that we can, and the offense will come.”
Right now, five teams are battling for position atop the 3A WSL. Saturday’s win was the second of the season for Olathe over Cedaredge. The Pirates’ two losses came to Grand Valley and Coal Ridge.
“There are five teams that can legitimately win the league,” Hilbig said.
Grand Valley is leading the league with a 7-1 record.
The Cardinals scored a 58-40 road win over Moffat County on Saturday. Grand Valley’s only league loss was to Cedaredge.
Coal Ridge and Moffat County each have three league losses.