For the first time this season, the Montrose girls basketball team came into a game ranked in the top 10 of Class 4A after being on the bubble all season long.
Following the Lady Indians’ dominating win against Rifle Tuesday, it’s easy to see why they’re rated 10th.
Montrose sprung out to a 25-point halftime lead, had nine different players score while the starters were pulled late in the third quarter as the Lady Indians (12-2) defeated the Bears, 56-19, at home.
“That’s nice but that’s not one of our goals,” coach Steve Skiff said of Montrose’s top 10 ranking. “We want to continue to get better and better and continue toward the other goals that we have.”
Montrose’s suffocating defense allowed just eight Rifle first-half while it also led the way to easy offense on the other end.
Skiff said these kinds of defensive performances come down to having “a veteran team.”
“Defense has been a staple of this program for a long time,” he said. “It’s a mindset. And our girls have a great mindset.”
Forward Ally Nichols credited the early advantage to the players coming out with the thought of securing an early lead.
“We wanted to come out strong. Sometimes we struggled with that in the past,” said Nichols, who alongside Josie Eccher had a team-high 11 points.
Caraline Burwell added 10 for Montrose while Josie Coulter came off the bench and scored eight.
The game did have its own scares for the Lady Indians.
Midway through the third period, Montrose’s leading scorer Kennadie Minerich came down hard on both knees after there was contact with a Rifle defender but no foul was called.
Minerich, who finished with eight points, had to be helped off of the floor and later sent back to the locker room. She eventually returned to the bench in the fourth period with ice on her knee as she watched her teammates close out the game.
Skiff was optimistic that Minerich’s injury was minor, saying his standout player’s “tough” attitude will prevent her from missing any upcoming games.
“There’s not a lot that’s going to keep her down,” Skiff said.
The Lady Indians still clicked on offense as they led 45-15 after the third quarter.
It was more of the same for the home team as it outscored Rifle 11-4 in the final period.
Montrose next starts Southwestern League play at 6 p.m, Friday on the road against a familiar foe.
Durango is one of two teams that has beaten Montrose so far which undoubtedly means “revenge” is on the Lady Indians’ minds.
“We just got to be ready for them,” Skiff said. “It’s a long trip there. They already beat us. But it’s one of those things where we’ve got to go to work tomorrow.”
“Revenge is what we’re looking for,” Nichols said with a laugh. “But it only gets harder from here. These games help us with the little things and focus on big games like Friday’s. It’s going to be tough to win down in Durango. But we’re going to do what we need to.”