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Defense was key in 25-point Bulldog win

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Photo by Tamie Meck Autumn Luginbyhl presses Saints junior Abby Kuhns in Hotchkiss' 57-32 conference win over Vail Christian Friday night.

The Hotchkiss girls upped their win-loss record to 10-2 last Friday with a 57-32 conference win over Vail Christian.

While they played well on both sides of the ball, head coach Haillie Taylor credits the defense for the win. The Bulldogs had 16 steals, deflected 14 passes and in the third period held the Saints to three points.

Hotchkiss shut the Saints shooting game down, holding lead scorer Sarah Heredia to six total points. The plan, said Taylor, was to close out, "shut her down and let somebody else step up and see if they can score without her."

Kaiya Firor scored two three-pointers and 17 points for the game, Elsie Vasquez scored 12, and Carson Collins 11. Junior Shay Glaser, who was named outstanding player of the game, scored 15, shot 75 percent from the foul line and had 10 rebounds. The team scored 12 of 18 from the foul line.

Hotchkiss ended the first quarter with a 14-10 lead. In the second, which Taylor described as "probably the worst quarter of basketball we've played this season," they scored six.

During halftime the team "had a little motivational talk in the locker room," said Taylor. "They got it fixed and came back and played their game," holding the Saints to one goal in the third, and scoring 23 points in the fourth.

"We really just started playing our game," said Firor, who opened the second half with her first of two three-pointers and finished the half with 12 points.

In the final period, Firor and Glaser scored back-to-back shots from the three line.

With seven games remaining, the win gives the Bulldogs a 4-1 conference record. They open the week at No. 16 in state RPI rankings.

Hotchkiss is one of six teams remaining in the 2A/1A WSL with winning records. They'll face five of them in the next three weeks, starting this Friday with 6-4 Rangely. Between Feb. 1-9, they'll travel to Soroco (11-2, 4-1), 1A North Park (7-3, 2-2) and Meeker (10-1, 5-0), and host Plateau Valley (9-3, 2-2).

To keep the momentum going, "We need to work on playing our game the whole game and not getting down," said Firor.

Collins, who called the game against the Saints a confidence builder, is averaging almost 16 points per game. She echoed Firor's sentiment. "We've got to keep working as hard as we can," she said. "Every practice, every game."

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