COLORADO SPRINGS — After leading by 10 points at the end of the first quarter, Sand Creek needed a 3-pointer from Nikki Derrell at the buzzer to go into halftime with a one-point edge over Falcon.
Coach Payden Goldberg wasn't worried. Quite the opposite. She thought her team was the exact position it needed to be.
She was right.
The Class 4A No. 4 Scorpions dialed up the pressure in the second half to get a 66-50 win over the No. 8 Falcons.
"We missed a lot of layups in the first half, missed some free throws and also just had some late turnovers," Goldberg said. "So I knew that once we came out and kind of refocused and regrouped that we were going to be just fine."
It also helped that her players got off to a better start in the second half than they did in the first half. A sloppy first quarter had the Scorpions (13-1 overall, 7-0 Pikes Peak Athletic Conference) with a 5-4 lead. Three-pointers from Derrell and Riley Rodriguez broke open a 12-3 run to end the quarter.
The second half was a much different story. The Falcons (12-4, 6-1) had battled back in the second quarter, but as Sand Creek turned up the pressure, Falcon turned the ball over. Derrell then scored seven of her game-high 17 points in the third quarter.
"I think it was the crowd, honestly," Derrell said. "The game started getting closer and the crowd started getting louder and it was time to take control of the game and slow the tempo down so we can play our game."
It was a crucial win for the Scorpions who now sit alone atop the PPAC standings. Across the board, it's the most important win of the season thus far.
"It was important to us because we were both undefeated in our league," Derrell said. "This game means so much to us, so we just had to go hard or go home."
Hannah Burg led the Falcons with 14 points and was part of the surge that helped them pull close - and even briefly take the lead - in the second quarter.
Derrell's 3-pointer at the buzzer of the second quarter did a great job of helping the Scorpions mentally stay in the game and make the necessary adjustments in order to pull away like they ended up doing.
"It was just working together and just become talking more on defense," Tamika Williams said. "We started trusting each other more."
Williams scored eight of her 14 points in the first half. Sahmira Wallace scored 10 of her 12 in the second half.
The Falcons face Lewis-Palmer on Friday and already have a four-point win over the Rangers this year. Next up for the Scorpions is a trip to Discovery Canyon.
Should the Falcons and Scorpions continue to rack up league wins, they'll face off on Feb. 20 to close out the regular season.