Defensive pressure lifts Idalia to 1A girls basketball title

Idalia girls basketball team

More photos. (Jack Eberhard/JacksActionShots.com)

LOVELAND — It’s never easier, which is why the second one is just as sweet.

The Idalia girls caused pressure all night in Saturday’s Class 1A state championship game. That pressure paid off for the Wolves as they defeated Briggsdale 49-33 to claim their second consecutive state title.

“Yes, definitely,” Reagan Shaffer said of the second title being as satisfying as last year’s.

Briggsdale started slow but broke out of a cold-shooting slump, scoring three baskets in a two-minute span to cut its deficit to 17-12.

Idalia answered with three baskets to close out the first half, leading 23-12 at intermission.

The Falcons’ biggest problem was securing the ball as they committed 13 turnovers in the first half.

Idalia primarily used the senior combination of Shaffer and Susana Herrera, using give-and-goes and cuts to the basket to take it inside all evening.

Herrera in particular called for the ball down the stretch, scoring eight of her 12 points in the fourth quarter.

“It’s all hard work,” Herrera said.

“She wanted the ball,” Idalia coach Cory Zion noted.

Briggsdale cut its deficit to nine in the fourth quarter but the Wolves held a double-digit lead through the final six minutes.

In addition to Shaffer and Herrera, Idalia got clutch shooting from Alex Weyerman in the fourth. A pair of baskets along the baseline gave her a team-high 16 points.

“She’s got ice water in her veins,” Zion said.

More importantly, Zion noted, she did an effective job defensively against Briggsdale guard Darian Hale.

“She’s a good guard,” Zion said in crediting Hale, who finished with 13 points.

Shaffer, for her part, finished with nine points but did a yeoman’s job on the boards with 13 rebounds.

Even though Idalia was the tournament’s fourth seed, the team knew what to do once it got there.

“You come to state, it’s do or die,” Shaffer said.

Zion noted his team graduates four seniors, but he’s got faith in the underclassmen.

“Our freshmen, sophomores and juniors go against the best team in the state the past two years,” Zion said as he looks forward to next season.

Sangre de Cristo took third place with a 54-48 victory over South Baca. Jenna McKinley scored 19 points and Karleigh Cooley 18 for the Thunderbirds.

Kit Carson edged Heritage Christian 42-39 to take the consolation trophy.