COLORADO SPRINGS — A fast start can make all the difference in the world. For the Flatirons Academy girls basketball team, that difference was simply maintaining a lead rather than having to stretch it out.
The Bison outscored Fleming by 11 in the first quarter and held that lead to get a 64-52 win to capture the Class 1A girls basketball state championship.
It turned out that first quarter was going to have an impact that would be felt until the final buzzer sounded.
"When I went into (the first quarter) I didn't know how big that would be," coach Mike Durrill said. "I was hoping it would be. Our last four games, the first quarter has been huge for us and today we were able to hit that outside shot and it opened things up for us."
That outside shot was made by Savana Kascak. Fleming's Whitney Chintala answered right away but that's when the Bison (14-4 overall) got hot and Wildcats went cold.
Flatirons Academy closed out the first quarter on a. 15-4 run to open up an 11-point lead.
"We've had a great team and our team is focus on defense," Emma Cox said. "We played them at the beginning of the year and came up short. We came up with a defensive plan and tried to (execute) that as best we could."
What helped that effort was that the offense didn't sputter for the remainder of the game. The Wildcats (12-4) finally found their footing. Kendyl Kirkwood was held scoreless in the first quarter but averaged eight points per quarter for the remainder of the game to score a game-high 24.
But her effort alone couldn't get the Wildcats to close the gap. Cox finished with a team-high 19 points and Kascak added 18 to keep that 11-point edge firmly in hand.
"Fleming is a great team and they school us in the regular season," Durrill said. "Our girls have been resilient. They've been cool, calm and collected. They're really enjoyed the process and haven't gotten tense or felt any pressure."
Any time that pressure could've crept up on the Bison, they'd find a way to brush it off. Fleming switched to a full-court press in the second half which did a great job at forcing turnovers and giving the Wildcats a chance to close the gap.
But each time, the Bison would find a way to halt that momentum. That was apparent at the start of the fourth quarter when Cox knocked down a big 3-pointer from the top the key to keep momentum with her team.
"I don't think that one mattered as much as everyone else's," Cox said. "We were led by a great group of seniors and our coaching staff is absolutely amazing. I just happened to accidentally hit a shot."
Accident or not, that shot had a big hand in ensuring the Bison would capture the first girls basketball championship in school history.
For right now, the 2021 team will go down as the benchmark for what the program is capable of.
"They love each other," Durrill said. "We haven't had any drama this year, this team has just been a family."