LONGMONT -- As the Skyline girls basketball team took the floor for its warm-ups at the end of halftime Thursday, the Falcons experienced the odd-but-hardly-unusual foible of getting two basketballs stuck in the net simultaneously.
It was somewhat of an ironic moment for Skyline, given that the two basketballs crammed into the net nearly equaled the number of field goals the Falcons managed to put through the rim during the entire first half.
Revisiting a trend that has thwarted Skyline during what may prove to be a season-turning slide, the Falcons were unable to overcome a frigid start while suffering a 47-29 defeat against Berthoud in a Tri-Valley League contest.
The loss was the fourth in five games for the Falcons, who remain mired near the bottom of the conference standings.
"We've been digging ourselves into a hole that we can't get out of," Skyline coach Tina Skidmore said. "We'll outscore the other team in the second half. The other night we won three out of four quarters, but we lost the first quarter by 22 points. We couldn't dig ourselves out. The same thing here. As coaches, we need to figure out a way to get them to play consistent through all four quarters."
A layup by senior Deandra Elcock gave the Falcons its first and only lead in the opening moments, but the highlights were few and far between afterward for Skyline. Over the next 15 minutes of the half Skyline managed only two more field goals, falling into a 24-9 hole going into the break.
"That has been an issue, starting the first half," said Elcock, who led Skyline with 13 points. "I don't know what happens. We get into a mindset like we can't do it. Then after halftime, we realize that we can. But then it's too late to come back. It happened against Mead and in a lot of our other games. We outscore them in the second half but get too far down in the first."
True to form, Skyline (8-9, 2-7 Tri-Valley League) put up a fight after halftime, scoring the first eight points of the third quarter to whittle Berthoud's lead to nine points. The Falcons trailed by 11 points going into the fourth, but consecutive baskets by Elcock and Naomi Barron kept the Falcons within seven points with a little more than 6 minutes remaining.
However, Berthoud quickly responded, scoring eight consecutive points during an 11-2 run that put the game away. Berthoud knocked down 11 of 14 free throw attempts during the final quarter and had little trouble harassing a one-dimensional Skyline offense that received 27 of its 29 points from Elcock, Barron, and Carissa Curtis.
"We don't talk a lot about (the standings) and we never have. Ever," Skidmore said. "That's the hardest part of coaching, the mental aspect of it. Our goal is to get them to play hard every game, regardless of what else is going on.
"We didn't have a lot of open looks, but Berthoud is a good defensive team. They were right in our face. We didn't have any breathing room."
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Berthoud 47, Skyline 29
At Skyline HS
BERTHOUD (9-7, 6-3)
Kouns 3 5-8 13, Baker 3 6-8 12, L. Loberg 2 1-2 5, Haggas 3 2-2 9, Karlin 1 0-0 2, M. Loberg 2 2-3 6. Totals 14 16-23 47.
SKYLINE (8-9, 2-7)
Emanuel 0 0-0 0, David 0 0-0 0, Elcock 5 2-4 13, Barron 3 2-2 8, C. Curtis 3 0-0 6, Steed 1 0-0 2, Spencer 0 0-0 0, Robison 0 0-0 0, A. Curtis 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 4-6 29.
Score by quarters:
Berthoud 10 14 6 17 -- 47
Skyline 5 4 10 10 -- 29
3-point field goals -- Berthoud (3): Kounds 2, Haggas; Skyline (0). Total fouls -- Berthoud 12, Skyline 20; Fouled out -- Emmanuel.