EVERGREEN — Good teams are like art museums. They represent talent and inspire outsiders to dream of ways of finding a weakness to plunder.
Against rival Evergreen, the Conifer Lobos got a long dose of physical, grinding girls basketball in a tournament-like atmosphere. And they passed with flying colors – even if those colors might be black and blue.
The Lobos made their one run count in the second quarter as they built and maintained a comfortable lead Feb. 11 for a 46-34 Class 4A Jefferson County League victory before a packed house.
“We persevered very well. They gutted this out,” Lobos coach Jon Marston said. “They handled that wave of being aggressive and we made enough shots to win the game.”
The Lobos (11-0 Jeffco, 19-2 overall) were held to seven points on 3-of-12 shooting in the first quarter before outscoring the Cougars (5-5, 12-10) 19-4 in the second. Alison Gorrell’s off-balance jumper five seconds before halftime gave Conifer a 26-10 lead that the Cougars could only nibble at the rest of the way.
Gorrell scored just two points in each quarter except the second, when the sophomore finally broke through the Cougars’ defensive schemes to score nine points. She finished with a game-high 15 points.
Junior guard Cara Walderman had seven points and six rebounds in the first half and played sparingly in the second half after re-aggravating an injury to her left ankle. Katie Ellerman picked up the slack, scoring all of her eight points after halftime.
The Cougars, who committed 16 fouls in the first half, went 0-for-10 from the field in the second quarter and committed six turnovers. A hard-fought 7-6 deficit after one quarter was quickly erased.
“Our offense just isn’t there anymore. It wasn’t there,” Evergreen junior Grace Beaudin said. “Or defense is always there, but our offense just comes and goes.”
Beaudin was the only Cougar to score in each quarter as she finished with 11 points. Sophomore substitute Halle Johnson had six points and Jordan Florschuetz and Katie Helf had five apiece.
The first game of the rivalry doubleheader was tight for both teams.
Defensively, the Cougars were locked on Gorrell, while the Lobos did a good job disrupting the high screens.
On offense, Evergreen had better luck pushing the ball and looking for slashing layups, while Conifer started getting it looks by feeding the ball in to the high post and kicking out to the wings for jumpers or cuts to the hole.
The Lobos trailed for a long stretch in the first quarter before going up for good. Conifer extended its lead from the foul line in the second quarter as Walderman, Gorrell, Paige Robertson and Bailey Miller turned a 16-10 lead into a 26-10 lead.
“It took us time until we started playing our game, and I think that’s just part of the rivalry and feeling comfortable,” Conifer junior Molly Sears said. “It came, though.”
The Lobos were fairly clinical down the stretch and never gave the Cougars any signs of a way to get back in.
The victory also removed the most dangerous test remaining in the regular season as they wrap up against Elizabeth and Alameda.
“It took a while for us to get some respect, but we got it right now and teams are looking out for us,” Sears said.
Conifer: Walderman 1 5-6 7, Hisel 1 2-2 5, Mohrman 3 0-0 6, Sears 0 0-0 0, Gorrell 6 3-5 15, Robertson 1 2-4 4, Summers 0 0-0 0, Ellerman 3 2-2 8, Miller 0 1-2 1, Midcap 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15 15-21 46.
Evergreen: Bestall 0 1-2 1, Stading 1 0-0 3, Beaudin 4 2-2 11, Florschuetz 2 1-2 5, Helf 1 3-3 5, Warren 0 1-2 1, Wiens 0 2-2 2, Schulte 0 0-0 0, Johnson 3 0-0 6. Totals: 11 10-13 34.
3-point goals: Hisel; Stading, Beaudin. Fouled out – Bestall.