COLORADO SPRINGS — Seneca Hackley and Josephine Howrey’s lock down defense provided Class 3A No. 1 St. Mary’s girls basketball with the needed jolt to defeat No. 3 Colorado Springs Christian School.
In a full house on Friday night, St. Mary’s (16-0 overall, 10-0 3A Tri- Peaks) got off to a slow, rough start. In the first half, CSCS (15-3, 9-1) took control of the game with a few key steals and rebounds to give them a 10-point lead. The CSCS girls held onto an eight-point lead going into halftime.
The second half was a different story and St. Mary’s came alive. With a smooth 3-pointer from Howrey and keeping CSCS to only scoring one point in third quarter, the Pirates were within three points of the Lions going into the fourth.
The game stayed close from then on.
With no baskets from both teams in two minutes of the fourth quarter, Brooklyn Valdez drove the ball in to get a basket for the Pirates that tied the game. Both teams continued to battle it out and were stuck in a tie when Howrey came up big and dropped a three putting St. Mary ahead for the first time of the night and ended with the CSCS girls getting their first league loss.
“It was a tale of two halves,” St. Mary’s coach Mike Burkett said. “They came out and did what they wanted to do the first half and so we made some adjustments and did some things we needed to do, and we came out and did what we needed to do.”
The rest of the game consisted of Howrey and Makenna Bodette making baskets that put them ahead 43-36. A free throw from Hackley cemented the lead.
The Lions never gave up though and Megan Engesser continued to battle, giving CSCS two baskets within the last minute of the game. However, it wasn’t enough as the St. Mary’s girls increased their winning streak to 16 games and remain undefeated for the season.
“They have some great players and a great coach and it’s a great win,” Burkett said. “Defensively we did really well but we need to work on getting better offensively and if we do that, we’ll be fine going into the playoffs.”
The defensive effort for the Pirates was led by Hackley and Howrey blanched things out on the offensive side, scoring 16 points. Valdez added 11 points.
“This was definitely a learning experience for us and they’re a good team so it’s really good for us to get the win,” Hackley said. “This was really exciting and it’s a big step for us with state coming up.”
Engesser provided the Lions with 16 points tonight and Rachel Ingram helped with 11 points of her own but was ultimately not enough to beat the undefeated Pirates.
St. Mary’s girls has three more games left in the season, but with Friday’s win they’re feeling pretty confident and are looking forward to March basketball and the possibility of seeing the CSCS girls again, possibly as soon as the district tournament.