Four minutes into its home contest against Ouray High School on Feb. 7, the Dove Creek High School girls basketball team found itself locked in a 6-6 tie and its head coach, Julie Kibel, was less than pleased.
After a tense timeout in which Kibel implored her players to move the ball, everything changed for the Lady Bulldogs, however, as the team closed the game on a 49-1 run and won, 55-7.
“Coach noticed that our heads weren’t in the game,” Dove Creek junior Angel Toledo said. “She pulled us out during warmups and said that we had to get our stuff together. Then she called timeout and yelled at us. After that, we finally started cranking it up.”
While Kibel’s talk served as the spark, the fire that pushed the Lady Bulldogs to their convincing victory burned molten red thanks to a swarming defense that made it difficult for Ouray’s offense to make it across half court.
Among the defensive stalwarts for Dove Creek was junior point guard Kobie Beanland, who came up with numerous steals and ignited her team’s offense.
“The main thing is the hustle,” Beanland said. “We need to hustle for every loose ball and be on the floor constantly. The blue swarm is what we’re called; we try to go after the ball whenever we can.”
Dove Creek took an 8-6 lead into the second quarter, then outscored Ouray 16-0 and carried a 24-6 lead into halftime. Ouray scored its last points early in the third quarter and after a 3-pointer by freshman Trista Barnett, Dove Creek pulled ahead 42-7 going into the final quarter.
Dove Creek continued to pour it on.
Back-to-back baskets by junior Grace Hatfield, who scored the 1,000th point of her high school career earlier in the week, put the Lady Bulldogs ahead 46-7, and Dove Creek closed its scoring with a 3-pointer from the top of the key by Beanland and a layup by Barnett.
Senior Cassie Gatlin dominated the paint throughout the game and showed a deft midrange shooting touch while scoring 12 points in the first half and four in the fourth quarter.
“Yesterday in practice, we had the guards work on throwing entry passes to the post players, and we did a better job of getting the ball to Gatlin tonight,” Toledo said.
Now 12-3 overall and 5-1 in the SJBL, Dove Creek will return to its practice court before a home matchup against Ridgway on Feb. 15.
“If we keep playing like we did the second half and play with our entire hearts out on the court every single game, we will go to state,” Beanland said.