GREELEY — The Kim/Branson girls knew they couldn’t get too comfortable.
Playing in the semifinals of the Class 1A basketball tournament on Friday, the No. 2-seeded Mustangs came out swinging against a No. 6 Briggsdale team with state tournament experience.
It’s ultimately what paved the way for their 50-46 victory.
Kim/Branson started to build its lead early as the Falcons continued to struggle with turnovers and missed shots — which left Briggsdale scoreless into the early part of the second quarter.
But those troubles wouldn’t last for long. Eventually, the momentum of the game would shift, and it would come down to whether the Mustangs had created enough of a cushion to remain safe.
“Our coach always encourages us to make sure we come out strong, with the right energy and enthusiasm,” freshman Talara Nittler said. “We wanted to do that for him and it really helped out in the end.”
Nittler was one of the key factors for Kim/Branson fending off Briggsdale’s late comeback bid. She finished the game with 11 points, the majority of which were scored when her team needed it most.
The Falcons were threatening by closing their deficit to as little as 3 and pressuring with a full-court press. Fortunately for the Mustangs, Nittler was able to drop eight points in the final quarter, including a 3-pointer to help remain in front coming down the stretch.
“It helps when you make some (shots). Then you get more comfortable and feel the momentum,” Nittler said. “It was about staying positive and knowing that we could keep it together as a team.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Briggsdale flipped the script to score 27 points in the final frame. Leading the way for the Falcons was senior Jodel Erickson, who put up a game-high 21 points. Her teammate Nikki Anderson also reached double-figures with 10.
Senior Ashley Yergert led Kim/Branson in scoring with 13 points, while senior Joni Brown added 12 and Nittler had 11.
(1) Kit Carson 43, (4) Fleming 28
The Wildcats showed exactly why they were seeded as the top team in the state tournament with a convincing win over No. 4 Fleming in the second girls semifinal game Friday night.
Kit Carson shot out to an early lead, then continuously grew that advantage the longer the game wore on. By halftime, the Wildcats led 23-12 and went into cruise control.
Defensively, Kit Carson held Fleming to just three points in the second quarter and four in the third.
The Wildcats were led on the other end of the court by freshman Cally Booker-Rady, who topped all scorers with 11 points. Teammate junior Tess Hornung chipped in 10 points of her own, and junior Haley Johnson contributed nine.
Fleming’s top scorer was senior Allison Keisel, who finished the game with 10 points. Fleming will play Briggsdale in the third-place game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday back at Bank of Colorado Arena.