Ryan Hilbig's Lady Bruins began climbing a hill early in the current basketball season. With hard work and a solid resolve, Cedaredge made it to the top of the 3A WSL standings with its recent wins.
Cedaredge defeated Grand Valley 54-51 on Jan. 11 and knocked off Coal Ridge and Moffat County last weekend.
Cedaredge (6-1 and 8-2) is the master of its destiny as the season heads into the crucial stretch run. The Lady Bruins are a game ahead of Grand Valley and Coal Ridge in the overall picture, with fourth-place Olathe matching Cedaredge's 8-2 overall mark. The Lady Pirates are 5-2 in league play and own a victory over Cedaredge from an early season contest.
The Lady Bruins made the most of their opportunities in a 45-38 win over Coal Ridge on Friday and then held on for a thrilling 49-44 win against Moffat County on Saturday.
Cedaredge 45, CR 38
The first quarter of this contest was a preview of just how close the game would be. Coal Ridge's Britni Allen scored five points in the period to lead the Lady Titans to a 14-13 lead after one quarter. Nellie Freeman, Mackenzie Kehmeier and Dakota Baldozier countered with four points each for Cedaredge.
Allen's four points in the second quarter would be all Coal Ridge would get in the period. Kendall McHugh paced the Lady Bruins with four points in a 10-4 scoring run for Cedaredge.
Cedaredge kept just enough pressure on the Lady Titans in the third quarter and added to their lead with a 9-5 effort paced by Freeman's six counters. Cedaredge held a 32-28 lead going to the final stanza.
Both teams stepped up their offensive efforts in the last quarter, with Coal Ridge outscoring the Lady Bruins 15-13. Paige Ryan had seven of the Lady Titans' 15 points in the period and Freeman collected five points for the Lady Bruins.
The key to this game was the defensive effort by Cedaredge in the middle quarters. Coal Ridge scored just four points in the second period and only five in the third.
Freeman's 15 points topped all scorers in the game, with Allen's 14 the game-high for Coal Ridge. Ryan chipped in 12 to give the Lady Titans two players in double digits.
Cedaredge 49, MC 44
Many coaches stress the importance of play right after halftime. Such was the case in Saturday's play against Moffat County. The Lady Bulldogs held a 22-21 lead at the break but couldn't keep it as Cedaredge outscored them 14-6 in the crucial third quarter to take a 35-28 lead.
Both teams scored 11 points in the opening quarter, with Freeman and Alyssa Isaman leading the way with four points each for Cedaredge. Moffat County's Jazmine Swindler and Allie Ehlers also had four points apiece.
Second period action featured plenty of energy with defense taking the center stage. Moffat County was able to ease its way to the lead on an 11-10 run.
In the third quarter, Freeman took charge of the offense to score seven points in Cedaredge's 14-6 run.
Fourth-quarter play was back and forth with Cedaredge managing to keep at least a three-point lead in the quarter. Each time Moffat County made a run the Lady Bruins would counter and build the lead back to a more comfortable margin.
Cedaredge shot 16 free throws in the fourth quarter and made eight of them. Freeman was six of 10 at the line and finished seven of 12 for the game with a game-high 18 points.
Moffat County outscored the Lady Bruins 16-14 in the final eight minutes but had to foul in order to make opportunities for its own offense down the stretch.
Hilbig believes his team may jump into the top 10. "It's awesome to be in first place and amazing to be where we are and we have to remember how hard we worked to get to where we are now. We have a target on our backs now and we must play well. The last three teams we've played have been in first place when we played them. That's three really, really tough teams in a row." Cedaredge is listed seventh in Class 3A rankings as of Sunday. Its predictability of making the playoffs is set at number 18 at this time.
The success of the Lady Bruins has several factors. One of the biggest factors for Hilbig is his talented point guard Nellie Freeman. "She is a one-man pressbreaker who has the trust of her teammates."
"These girls expect to win and play hard to get the wins," noted Hilbig.
Other players Hilbig touted included Baldozier, Bree Gutierrez, Kristen Gardner and Kehmeier who Hilbig said could go off at any time in a game.
Cedaredge is back in action Jan. 24 against Roaring Fork at 5:30 p.m. and plays in Olathe on Saturday at 4 p.m. Cedaredge plays in Gunnison Jan. 28 at 6 p.m.blog comments powered by Disqus