For the better part of three quarters, Dolores and Dove Creek found themselves locked in a defensive stalemate. A decisive fourth quarter run by the Lady Bears (2-2) proved to be the difference in a 35-30 Dolores victory.
Dolores senior Josie Majors started brightly on the offensive end, accounting for over half the team’s points in the opening quarter as the Bears built an 11-3 lead on Dove Creek’s floor.
Then, defense took over. For the next 16 minutes, the Bears and Bulldogs (0-3) battled to a stalemate, making every attempt difficult as the teams evenly split the six total points scored in the second quarter.
A steal and layup for Dolores senior Sierra Schwartz opened the second half, upping the visiting Bears’ lead to double figures. After Dove Creek’s Madalyn Hankins responded with a bucket of her own, the Bulldogs once again hit a dry spell, struggling to bring the ball up against the Lady Bear press.
After Dolores sophomore McKenzie Howerton knocked down a right-wing jumper to give the visitors their largest lead of the night at 21-9 with two minutes left in the third quarter, it appeared the visitors were in command.
Dove Creek had other ideas.
The Bulldogs ended the quarter with the final three points, breathing life into the home crowd. Dove Creek head coach Julie Kibel’s squad carried the momentum into the final eight minutes. In the opening minute of the fourth, a pair of Hankins layups and a Cassie Gatlin three-point play capped a 10-0 run that suddenly had the Bulldogs within two. Moments later, freshman Grace Hatfield completed the Dove Creek comeback, banking in the game’s only three-pointer to give Dove Creek a 24-23 lead.
The lead was short-lived. Four consecutive free throws from Tatum Majors reclaimed the lead for the Bears. Her sister, Josie Majors, then stepped in front of a Dove Creek pass and coasted to the other end to build the lead to five. Free throws and swarming defense down the stretch for Dolores helped the Bears to escape with the win.
Dolores head coach Tiffany Hill was pleased with how her team responded to the Bulldog run and saw out the game. “The girls pulled it out and slowed it down the way we needed to,” said Hill. “I thought we handled the ball well.”
Hill recognizes the win is part of the process for her team’s growth this year. “We have our goals this year, and this game gets us closer to where we want to be.”
Josie Majors led all scorers with 11, while Tatum added seven. Gatlin paced the way for the Bulldogs with eight.
On the Dove Creek side, Kibel felt that she saw the team she was hoping to see emerge in the fourth quarter. “We have a new system, but the girls started to see what we (the coaching staff) see, and it was beginning to work.”
Kibel knows that in the loss, the Bulldogs result carried many positives. “The intensity was better, and we definitely looked more confident,” she said.
Dolores prepares for Sargent on Saturday, while Dove Creek will meet Ouray next Thursday.