COLORADO SPRINGS — Doherty's entire starting lineup was forced out of the game due to a uniform violation. So when they re-entered moments later, they were all business in a 57-43 win over Liberty on Thursday.
The win gives the Spartans a two-game cushion in the Class 5A Colorado Springs Metro League and they are now winners of seven straight contests.
"We knew that if we came out slow on Liberty, there would be a good chance that it would be a close game," Kalani Poloa said. "We knew if we came out hard and pressured them the way we did we could get a head start and push up the score the way we did."
The game got off to a clunky start with officials noticing that the CHSAANow.com No. 5-ranked Spartans (15-1 overall, 6-0 CSML) had the waistband of their shorts rolled up, a violation of uniform rules. The entire lineup had to be subbed out of the game.
When the starters got back into the game they took no prisoners on either end of the floor. They seemed to score at will, while their zone press gave the Lancers (10-6, 4-2) fits.
By the end of the first quarter, the Spartans built a 17-8 with Kalani Poloa scoring nine of her 17 points in the quarter.
Doherty was able to balance the offensive effort in the post, finding Aubrianna Noti in the post often. She scored a team-high 17 to and was able to limit the damage Liberty could in the paint.
"They can't stop our big inside," Doherty coach Pat McKiernan said. "Every time we went inside we got something good out of it."
It looked like the bulk of the offense was going to come from 3-point range as Jordan Valentine knocked down two deep balls early. But the constant pressure on the Liberty offense limited her to only one basket the remainder of the game.
"At first we played a zone. We didn't think Jordan was going to hit them right away," Poloa said. "After we saw her hit those hit threes, we switched to a man and kept her away from the 3-point line."
They were forced to get their points through another means and it was Jayda Lyon who stepped up, leading the all scorers with 21.
"The nice thing about our group is that we have a lot of different types of players that can do different things," Liberty coach Kyle Spencer said. "We don't have to put all the pressure on one player."
But Lyon's 21 weren't enough.
By the time the game was headed into the fourth quarter, the Spartans had built a 41-27 lead. The Lancers were able to cut it to 11, but no closer.
The important takeaway from the game from Liberty's standpoint was seeing one of the top teams in state. They'll see Doherty again on Saturday, but if Liberty hopes to do some damage in the state playoffs, they know the level of play they have to maintain.
"We had a lot of growth against a team that is top-six right now in RPI," Spencer said. "To be able to compete a little bit at that level, it's good for us to know what it looks like."