After losing to Nucla 71-27 earlier this season, the Dolores Bears girls basketball team entered their Jan. 18 rematch against the Mustangs with room to improve.
Improve the Bears did, giving the Mustangs all they could handle before falling 50-37 in front of an energetic Dolores crowd.
Looking much improved to begin the contest, the Bears raced out to an 11-9 first quarter lead on the strength of strong inside play by junior Taylor Elder, who scored five of her 11 total points in the opening frame.
An 11-2 run by Nucla to begin the second quarter stymied the Bears momentum however, and although Dolores clawed back with four points just before the half, the score favored the Mustangs 27-19 at the end of two quarters.
Continuing a first-half pattern of dominating the Bears on the boards, several Nucla post players scored easy buckets off offensive rebounds during a third quarter.
Several fast breaks initiated led by sophomore Nichole Kibel senior Brianna Schwartz kept the Bears within striking distance however, as the third quarter ended with the Bears trailing 42-32.
Schwartz scored six of her team-high 16 points during the third quarter.
"Knowing where each other are helps out on fast break stuff," explained Kibel. "We ran our break well tonight."
Rebounding issues continued to haunt the Bears during the fourth quarter however, and after several boards and put backs by Nucla post players, the game ended with the Bears trailing by 13.
"They were really strong," said Elder of Nucla's post players. "We need to box out more and get more rebounds."
Even with the rebounding issues however, the fact that the Bears were able to keep things close represented a marked improvement for the young team.
With their record now at 5-4 on the year, the Bears face Ouray at home on Jan. 24.