Sweet Sixteen sweet as can be for the Lady Spartans
By Jordan Schachterle
It was all about playing and persevering as a family for the Spartans on Friday night.
The Berthoud High School (BHS) girls basketball team claimed a 75-57 victory in the second round of the Colorado 4A state playoffs over the Widefield High School (WHS) Gladiators. Stellar shooting all around by the Spartans and aggressive defense helped No. 8-seed, Berthoud, cruise into the Sweet Sixteen.
“The first three minutes of both halves said a lot about how the game was gonna go,” Head Coach Alan Gibson said. “We got some breathing room early.”
It didn’t even take the Spartans a full three minutes to come out firing. In the first 63 seconds they went on a 7-0 run. They continued the high-energy play on both sides of the ball for the coming minutes, but it wasn’t enough to maintain a lead.
At the end of the first quarter, both Berthoud and Widefield sat tied at 16 points. “I think it was a big eye-opener,” junior guard and power forward Emily Cavey said. “We came out really strong and obviously in that first quarter especially, we kind of went down a little bit.”
The Spartans regained their energy after a nearly three-minute scoring drought to start the second with a 10-2 scoring run. As Berthoud became more and more comfortable with their one-three-one defense, they capitalized on steals and forced turnovers with points of their own.
They went into halftime with momentum in their hands and a comfortable 11-point lead.
The BHS defense began to look good during the final minutes of the first half, but they really got in the groove for the second.
“We did it way better in the second half than in the first half,” Gibson said. “We didn’t have enough pressure on the ball in the first, but in the second half we had way better pressure on the ball up top, so they couldn’t get it down low.”
The aggressive defense led to 22 steals on the night for Berthoud, four coming from each Cavey, Bre Fowler and Celsey Selland, and another three from Syd Leeper.
A fade-away shot from senior point guard Leeper gave Berthoud their biggest lead of the night at 20 points with just under three minutes remaining in the third. As the buzzer sounded at the end of the quarter, BHS led 58-31.
The action was far from over in the final eight minutes of play, with plenty of fouls and baskets coming from each team. Cavey put in five points of her 17 in the fourth, and Leeper put in two of her team-high 19.
With just under five minutes remaining Cavey fouled out of the game, and 30 seconds later Selland did the same. Even with Berthoud’s large lead, the exit of both players hurt them.
“I mean you look at the score and you see 70-plus points and you think that it’s a cake walk and it’s a breeze, and then all of a sudden you look at the foul totals and you see we had lots of fouls and had multiple people foul out,” Gibson said. “I’m just really proud of the way we took off in the second half and the way we use our whole roster and the way we persevered.”
The remaining starters and every player of Berthoud’s bench helped secure their 18-point victory. The entire team has become accustomed to each player’s type of play, which has created a great bond between the Spartans that helps them stay in the game no matter who is injured, who has fouled out, or who is not on the court.
“It only works when all of us work together with it, and that really happened with it tonight,” Cavey said. “I think all of us having such a great bond just helps so much.”
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