COLORADO SPRINGS -- The Durango Demons will live to fight another day.
A quick start on offense and a suffocating full-court press propelled the Demons into the second round of the 4A state basketball tournament as they downed the Cheyenne Mountain Indians 57-40 Tuesday night. They now move on to face defending state champion Pueblo South on Friday.
The Demons got off to a quick start, building a 9-0 lead on the strength of junior Katie Wiegert’s 3-point shooting. The Demons then upped the intensity of their lead by defending the Indians with a full court man-to-man defense that wreaked havoc for most of the first half.
“There have been different things that have worked for us all year and that seems to be one that has worked the best,” coach Nancy Smith said. “Usually it’s more effective when we get a lead and we were able to get some quick buckets and that allowed us to really put pressure on them defensively.”
Wiegert’s effort was complimented by Emily McCue’s play which only helped build the Demons lead to 33-16 at the end of the first half. Wiegert would finish the game with 18 points and McCue would end up as the top scorer for the Demons with 21.
Both players were able hit enough shots to keep the lead at double digits and keep the Indians from clawing their way back into the game. They led 45-30 after the third quarter and from that point on, they were able to cruise into the next round of the playoffs.
“We wanted to jump the gun early and we wanted to pressure them so that they had no way of seeing (down the court),” Wiegert said. “We just had the momentum so we just wanted to keep pushing them. It was their home court, they had the fans, they had everyone watching so we wanted to push it and give them hell.”
The Indians got a solid offensive performance from senior guard Sara Walters, but her six points couldn’t hang with the combined efforts of Wieger and McCue. The obvious struggle to break the press was able to frustrate the Indians which took them out of their game plan, making them uncomfortable through the majority of the game.
“The press break has been one of our strengths all year long," Indians coach Mike Armentrout said. “I don’t think I can pinpoint why we couldn’t do it this go around. I think the kids played hard. If I had the answers we wouldn’t be standing here with a 17-point deficit with no time remaining on the clock.”
The Demons now advance to play the defending state champion Pueblo South Colts. At first glance, the 10-12 Demons might be in over their head, but heading into the playoffs was the first time all year the team was healthy, and the win against the Indians showed what they were capable of.
“We’ve got 10 girls that I can send in at any point and play them at the right spot,” Smith said. “It’s a fun group. I knew we had a fantastic team, but we had some injuries. McCue was out for the first half of the year and as soon as she came back, Katie got injured. For the first time now, we’re all healthy and we just haven’t seen a chance to see what we can do.”
They’ll have a chance to see what they can do when they tip off against Pueblo South at 3:30 p.m. Friday. That game will be the first of two round of 32 games to be played Friday at the Colorado State Fair Events Center.