The Hotchkiss High School girls' basketball team proved the old adage, "You can learn more from a loss than a win," against Meeker last Saturday evening.
The Bulldogs led after the second and third quarters but succumbed to foul trouble and cold shooting in the end as Meeker prevailed 44-40.
Despite the outcome on the scoreboard, the Bulldogs left the floor with confidence after showing signs that they are starting to come together as a team.
"It was the best they've played this year," Hotchkiss coach Ginger McPherson said. "They started playing like a team. We found some chemistry."
Bulldogs senior guard Mae Anderson continued her strong season and led all scorers in the contest with 15 points. Fellow senior Sam Galley threw in 11 for Hotchkiss.
Andi Todd netted four points in the loss and both Carson Collins and Kenley Derby scored three for the Bulldogs. Chase Bizer and Alondra Gallegos each had a bucket for Hotchkiss.
"Everybody had a really good game," McPherson said. "We see the points but we don't remember who made that pass or who had the assist or who set the screen or who sealed for who. This was the first time that we've played as a team and had that chemistry that gets things going and happening."
Both teams missed a lot of shots and started slowly in the first quarter, which saw Meeker take an 11-8 lead.
Then the Bulldogs roared back in the second. Anderson hit a 3-pointer to tie the game, then fellow senior Gallegos sank a shot to give Hotchkiss the lead. Anderson hit another trey and the Bulldogs led 17-11.
Anderson picked up her third foul with more than half the quarter remaining and she had to sit. But the Hotchkiss bench responded and the home team went into halftime ahead 24-19.
The third quarter opened with an oddity: Galley scored a deuce for the other team. She took an inbounds pass and instead of looking up the court and passing the ball, muscle memory took over and Galley quickly laid the ball in the hoop. The Cowboy's hoop.
"That happened in a game earlier this year, only it happened to the other team," McPherson said. "The Meeker players didn't even know. They tried to defend on the play. It happened so fast. It happens in basketball and you just can't stop it."
Galley recovered nicely when she sank a 3-pointer to give Hotchkiss the lead back at 31-30 midway through the third.
"Then she came back and made a 3-pointer and made up for it," McPherson said. "And she had a great fourth quarter."
Anderson sank a 3-ball and Hotchkiss led 34-32 going into the final frame.
Galley hit back-to-back hoops to tie the score 38-38. But Meeker freshman Megan Shelton, who led the visitors with 10 points in the game, answered with consecutive scoring drives of her own.
Galley scored another bucket, but the key moment took place with 15 seconds left when Anderson was called for an offensive foul, her fifth.
Shelton and Halle Ahrens sank free throws to wrap up the Meeker win.
The Bulldogs fell to 2-8 overall and are 1-2 in 1A/2A Western Slope League action. They were on the road at No. 3 Cedaredge last night.