Cedaredge’s Dakota Baldozier is pressed by the Hotchkiss defense in a 3A Western Slope League pigtail playoff game in Hotchkiss last week. The Lady Bulldogs won the game, 54-39, to advance to compete in league competition.
Late last week, the Lady Bulldogs weren't certain if they'd made the 3A playoffs. And if they did, they were most likely to face No. 3 Roaring Fork on Tuesday.
Roaring Fork has the one thing Hotchkiss lacks, height, and the Lady Rams defeated Hotchkiss earlier in the season, but only by four.
A pigtail game against Roaring Fork would likely mean elimination from 3A Western Slope playoffs.
Head coach Josh Kasper found out last Saturday that they would play — for the fourth time this season — against rival Cedaredge, on Monday.
"That didn't give us much time to prepare," said Kasper.
But, as Lady Bruins coach Allen Golden noted before the game, this is the eighth meeting in two seasons for the neighboring rivals. Cedaredge won the first of those games, played at the Bank of the West tournament, by 16. Since then, every game has been decided by two or three points, including last year's pigtail game, which Cedaredge won, 45-42. There aren't many secrets between the two teams, said Golden.
But this game belonged to Hotchkiss. From the start, the Lady Bulldogs ran a quick-paced game, drew fouls and forced turnovers. A 30-point second half gave Hotchkiss the win they needed to move on.
"We kept going the whole time," said senior guard Erin Jones, who scored six of her 11 points on free throws. "Usually we have a little run and then we die, kind of, and let them catch up. We just played the whole time and it made the difference. It showed."
Hotchkiss sophomore Kylie Hodges opened with two from the paint for Hotchkiss. A lay-up by guard Natalie Anderson and a three by Jones gave Hotchkiss an early 0-9 lead. With 4:30 remaining in the first, Bruin Tani Zamarripa hit a jump shot to put Cedaredge on the board. Hotchkiss led 5-14 at the end of the first quarter.
Cedaredge didn't give in and started picking away at the lead. A three by Bruin Lindsey Gardner tied the game at 16 with 2:30 remaining in the first half, and a jump shot from the perimeter by Kristin Alward gave Cedaredge a 2-point lead.
Guard Jenny Celis came off the bench to hit a three and bring Hotchkiss to within one. Hotchkiss forced a turnover and Celis made another three to give the lead back to Hotchkiss. They led by one going into the half.
Hotchkiss controlled the ball to start the second half. Their press didn't allow Cedaredge past half-court for the first two minutes. Cedaredge's first shot came almost three minutes into the half when Dakota Baldozeir sank a three, but still they trailed by six.
Hotchkiss took every opportunity to shoot, and the Bruin fouls quickly added up. By the start of the fourth, Cedaredge was in foul trouble. Zamarripa fouled out, then Jamie Deal. Baldozier, who was leading the Bruins in scoring with eight points, fouled out. Hotchkiss scored 12 of its 17 free throws in the second half.
With two minutes remaining, Kissner sank two shots from the line to bring Cedaredge to within four. But Jones stole a Bruin inbounds pass and drove to the net for two (and another Bruin foul). Hotchkiss maintained control when Brandy Dutton scored another goal off of an assist by Celis; Hotchkiss again forced a Bruin turnover. Jessie Violett's shot was off the rim and Celis got the rebound and added two more.
Hotchkiss was leading 52-39 at the buzzer. Anderson was fouled and scored her last two free throws with no time remaining for the 54-39 win.
"We ran out of gas," said Golden. "Tough way to lose."
Celis ended the game with 11 points, with Anderson and Katie Richards each adding eight. Bruins' Lindsey Gardner and Baldozier led Cedaredge with eight points each.
The win guaranteed the Lady Bulldogs at least two more games in the WSL tournament.
Hotchkiss traveled to No. 2 Rifle Tuesday. Rifle (18-4, 11-2) won, 52-33. The Lady Bulldogs won Friday over Coal Ridge — a team they lost to by 21 points in January — by a score of 39-31.
On Saturday, Hotchkiss played for fifth place in the tournament against No. 3 Roaring Fork (14-8, 11-2). The Lady Rams got an early jump on Hotchkiss to lead 22-7 at the half, and won 45-34.
Jones led the Bulldogs in scoring with 10 points, and Anderson scored eight.
Hotchkiss ended the season with an 8-13, 4-9 record.