Olathe uses 2nd-half run to top Huskies

FORT COLLINS — Only 24 hours earlier, Olathe’s slow start ultimately proved too much for the Pirates to overcome.

On Friday, Olathe again started slow, but when the final buzzer sounded, the only thing that mattered was how the Pirates finished.

Olathe pummeled Florence in the second half, coasting to a 45-28 win in the consolation bracket of the Class 3A girls basketball state tournament at Colorado State University’s Moby Arena.

“I’m real proud of them,” Pirates coach Paul Althaus said of his team. “I knew they would come back (after a 42-39 loss to Trinidad on Thursday), because they’re a very competitive bunch.”

With the win, fifth-seeded Olathe (23-3) moves on to the consolation championship at 10 this morning against second-seeded Machebeuf (24-2), which was a 72-49 winner against Bayfield on Friday.

The top-seeded Huskies wrap up their season with a 15-11 record, dropping both games this week after a stunning win last weekend against Holy Family (22-2), which had won the past four 3A titles.

Neither Florence nor Olathe showed much rhythm on offense early as the Huskies turned a 7-7 first quarter tie into a 12-9 halftime advantage after holding the Pirates scoreless for the final 7 minutes of the second quarter.

After falling behind 17-11 on a Britney Warren three-point play with 6 minutes, 2 seconds left in the third, Olathe’s offense heated up in a hurry.

The Pirates engineered a quick 11-0 run highlighted by three straight 3s from Tawni Middleton, Kylie Tait and Bethany Cox, giving Olathe a sudden 22-17 lead with 3:29 left in the third.

After Florence trimmed the gap to 22-19, the Pirates went on another run, closing the third on a 6-0 run to take a 28-19 lead entering the final quarter.

Olathe never showed any signs of cracking in the fourth, taking a 36-23 lead after a steal and a pair of free throws by senior guard Brenda Suarez with 5:53 left in the game.

While seemingly everyone fell into a groove for the Pirates in the second half, Olathe senior post player Bethany Cox was a force early, late and in between.

Althaus called Cox’s performance her best of the season.

She was efficient inside and outside, scoring a team-high 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 2 of 4 from 3-point range.

“We passed the ball really well, and I just really looked for my shot this game, which I haven’t done in the past,” said Cox, who also had a team-high six boards. “The first half we didn’t shoot very well. So, coming out in the second half, hitting those 3s and just getting going really helped us.”

Norwood 51, Merino 48, OT: The Mavericks rallied to tie the game in the fourth quarter, then took control in overtime to reach the girls Class 1A state championship game.

Harlie Williams scored 20 points for Norwood and Lindsey Stindt and Katelyn Hardman added nine each.

Norwood plays Pawnee for the title at 5:30 this evening.


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