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Hotchkiss girls look for promising season

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Photo by Tamie Meck Carson Collins scores two of her 20 game points in Hotchkiss' season-opening win over Nucla last Thursday. A fourth-year varsity player, Collins averaged more than 10 points per game last season.

The Hotchkiss girls basketball team is off to a good start, handily winning its first three games of the season.

The Bulldogs opened the season at home Thursday with a 53-15 win over Nucla, and on Friday held the Ridgway Demons scoreless in the first period and to single digits in three periods for a 44-23 win at the annual Norwood Shootout. On Saturday, Hotchkiss dominated Norwood for a 61-25 win.

Hotchkiss isn't big in numbers, but after losing one senior to graduation last season, every eligible player from last season returned to the court. "Our goal is to make it to state and I'm hoping to help them get there," said third year head coach Haillie Taylor.

The varsity squad consists of four seniors and three juniors. Senior power forward Carson Collins, who received all-state honorable mention her junior year, averaged over 10 points and four rebounds per game last year. After three games she's averaging just over 19 points and nine rebounds per game.

Kaiya Firor returns as point guard. As a junior she averaged almost seven points per game, and on defense led the team in steals with 101 for the season. She also averaged 4.2 rebounds per game.

Named 2As co-athlete of the year in track in 2018, Firor has both speed and ball-handling skills. "She's fast," said Taylor. "God, she's fast."

Senior Mariah Griffith averaged 2.3 points in 14 games as a junior. Kaleigh Little, a 5'-11" post, averaged 2.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game last season.

The seniors are all good leaders and good role models for the younger players in the program, said Taylor.

Junior players include Elsie Vasquez, Shay Glaser and Autumn Luginbyhl. Glaser, a 5'-10" point guard and strong forward, averaged 8.4 points per game her sophomore year, and Vasquez averaged 8.2.

Five freshmen -- Ariana Ven John, Lottie Hollembeak, Izzi Houesweart, Indigo Miller-Barnes and Vianney Mendoza, and sophomores Cyanna Taylor, Teresa Martinez and Tessa Griffith make up the junior varsity squad.

The team played a 15-game season last summer. It attended its home basketball camp, competed in a tournament at Olathe and traveled to Utah for a tournament and played nine games. This is the first time she's taken a team out of state, which it paid for through fundraising. "They had a blast," said Taylor.

The team has a goal of making defense key to its game, said Taylor. In the season-opener against Nucla, "They did an awesome job of executing and communicating." Taylor wasn't sure just how many turnovers they forced, but they had 21 turnovers. "That's a little high," she said. "We should only have 10."

While Nucla's a good team, said Taylor after the win, she looks forward to seeing what they can do under more pressure. They host Telluride at 5 p.m. Thursday, travel to Aspen on Dec. 8, and to De Beque Dec. 12.

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