Warriors squeeze past Mustangs to move into Sweet 16

PHOTO BY DANIELLE STOMBERG—Central’s Karen Hayter takes one to the basket during Friday night’s game against Ponderossa.

It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but it was still a playoff victory.

The Central High School girls basketball team scraped and clawed its way to a 51-47 victory Friday night over Ponderosa in the second round of the 5A state playoffs at Central High School.

“It never seemed like we could get into a good flow,” Central coach Todd Dixon said. “But for us to come out on top against a team that won their first playoff game, I am very happy.”

The Warriors (17-7) got thrown for a loop when leading scorer Amy Kame drew her fourth foul with 4:39 left in the third quarter. Central was leading 33-21 at the time and without Kame, the Mustangs were able to cut the Warriors’ lead to 37-32 by the end of the quarter.

“We should have slowed down,” Central’s Karen Hayter said. “We were trying to force passes and we had way too many turnovers.”

Ponderosa struck first in the fourth quarter, bringing the game to 37-34. With the Mustangs gaining momentum, Dixon put Kame back in.

“My philosophy was not to put her in immediately if things starting to go wrong,” Dixon said.

“I wanted to hang onto the lead as much as we could.”

While the Mustangs did narrow the Warriors’ lead, players like Maddi Vana and Hayter made baskets during the roughly six-minute span that Kame was on the bench to keep the Mustangs from ever taking the lead.

“When they got it to within three, I had to put her back in,” Dixon said. “But Karen, Stacy (Kinnett) and Maddi didn’t make it so the absence of Amy hurt too much.”

Even with Kame back in the game, the Warriors had to battle to the end. With 44 seconds left, two Kinnett free throws pushed the lead to 50-44. On the Mustangs’ next possession, their post player, Jill Meyer, banked in a 3-pointer. After a timeout, Hayter made one of two free throws to give Central the cushion needed to pull out the victory.

“The girls came over with 44 seconds left excited and I told them that this game was not over yet,” Dixon said. “The fact their post player banked in a 3 from the top of the key is a representation of how the game went.”

The game began sporadically for the Warriors, who took a 10-5 lead with two minutes left in the first quarter only to see Ponderosa rally to lead 12-10 going into the second quarter.

After a Kristi Trombly 3-pointer gave the Mustangs a 15-13 lead, Hayter got hot and scored eight points in the quarter as the Warriors outscored Pondersosa 15-2 the rest of the half.

Dixon said despite giving up the double-digit halftime lead in the second half, he is happy about taking down a scrappy Ponderosa team.

“For us to pull that game off against a team that plays in the toughest league in Colorado and for us to not play very good said a lot about how much we can improve,” Dixon said.

“Right now we are 32 minutes from our goal of getting into the final eight.”

Hayter led the Warriors with 13 points. Kame finished with 11, all in the first half. Ponderosa was led by Meyer’s 14 points and Lauren Caviello added 12.

Central advances to the Sweet 16 to play No. 2 seed Arapahoe on Wednesday. Time and site will be determined Sunday.


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