Playoff basketball: Second half surge leads Coal Ridge girls over Ellicott, 59-37
It was just when Coal Ridge sophomore Jackie Camunez weaved her way through Ellicott’s stingy full-court press and dished it to senior teammate Rae Nelson for a quick layup to end the first half.
That’s what did it.
Following a hard-fought two first quarters that saw the Lady Thunderhawks leading most of the time, the Lady Titans exploded on a second-half surge to win the first round of the 3A state tournament.
Notching a 59-37 win, 15th-ranked Coal Ridge now has their sights set on a quarterfinal battle with second-ranked Centauri.
It wasn’t easy for the Lady Titans right out the gate. After Camunez nailed a 3-pointer at 4:12, the Thunderhawks recorded a six-point run, helping place the away team up 12-9 going into the second frame.
A two-point connection by Ellicott sophomore Aileen Gutierrez would put the Thunderhawks up 16-11 at 5:15 in the second quarter — their largest lead of the night. But, along with Nelson’s layup, a nice 2-point banker by sophomore Mikayla Cheney and four consecutive free throws by senior Taylor Wiescamp, the Thunderhawks nursed a 21-20 lead going into the second half.
That’s right around the time Coal Ridge had enough.
“Well we just had to settle down and decide to play basketball,” head coach Clyde Morgan said. “That first half we were playing frantic and we were letting them take us out of our own game. We came back in the second half and started rebounding and doing our job and playing well.
“That’s what it’s going to take,” he added. “We need to rebound and control the glass.”
Back in third-quarter action, both teams would go tit-for-tat until Cheny and Camunez drained back-to-back shots from downtown around the 4-minute mark. Following a short two-pointer by Wiescamp, the Lady Titans went into the final frame up 44-28.
By then, it was too late for the Thunderhawks as Coal Ridge outscored them 15-9 in the fourth quarter.
Wiescamp ended the game with 18 points and 15 rebounds. Camunez ended with 17 points. Peyton Cheney notched 8 points and 10 boards.
Next up, Coal Ridge (12-3) meets Centauri (13-1) at 5 p.m. Thursday in La Jara.
In other action
Also winning its first-round game in the 3A girls tournament was Grand Valley. The Cardinals defeated Pagosa Springs on the road, 47-44. Game details were not immediately available. The Cardinals (9-6), ranked 24th in the 24-team field, now face No. 8 Brush (11-3) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Brush.
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