Playing with high-level energy and dictating the pace, the Dolores High School girls basketball team raced to a 45-32 victory Friday over Norwood in the semifinals of the Class 2A District 3 Tournament.
Among the keys to Dolores’ victory was the team’s ability to score in transition during a first half that saw the Lady Bears build a 28-8 lead. Highlighting Dolores’ fast-break baskets was an athletic layup by junior Morgan Milligin, which came after a stellar catch in traffic.
“We were originally going to try to (slow the pace), but when a fast break is all that we have, that’s what we’re going to go for,” Lady Bears’ senior Sarah Hamilton said. “We did a nice job with our fast break tonight.”
While the Lady Bears’ fast break stole the show in the first half, the team’s ability to score inside played a vital role throughout the third and fourth quarters as Milligan and Tatum Majors consistently scored down low over outsized Norwood defenders.
Consecutive baskets by Majors early in the fourth quarter put Dolores ahead 42-16, and a layup by Milligan moments later after a pretty drop step extended the Lady Bears lead to 44-19 with about six minutes left.
“We can work the outside, but we always try to get the ball inside,” Milligin said. “(Norwood) packed a tight defense on the inside, so being able to move the ball and be patient really got us our (points in the paint).”
Majors led Dolores in scoring with 14 points, Milligan scored 10, Hamilton chipped in 7, and senior Sierra Schwartz scored 4. Norwood was led in scoring by Cortney Lemon, who scored a game-high 18 points.
Aware that their district championship matchup against Ignacio was less than 12 hours away, Dolores players migrated to their locker room for a brief talk before returning home to rest before their biggest game of the season.
Although the Lady Bears were soundly defeated by Ignacio in each of two regular season matchups, players emphasized that anything is possible for a Dolores team peaking that appears to be peaking at the right time.
“(Ignacio) is the best team, we know that, but anyone can beat the best team,” Hamilton said.
“We’re just going to go in there with clear minds and be humble and work as a team. We’re going to play our hearts out.”