LONGMONT -- The situation seemed so red-carpet for the Erie girls basketball team that it had to be too good to be true.
The Tigers were facing a Skyline team they had defeated by 18 points last month, then they showed up Friday night to learn three of the Falcons' top players -- starters Deandra Elcock and Naomi Barron along with key reserve Courtney David -- were unavailable to play.
So how did an Erie team riding a five-game winning streak fall 49-45 to host Falcons? Well, for starters, the playing field was leveled when Erie lost two of its starters to injury during the contest, including star guard Amanda Ochoa in the second quarter.
And just as significantly, shorthanded Skyline (11-11, 5-8) deserved credit for finding a way to win the Class 4A Northern League contest.
"We knew we had to give it our all to make up for the girls we were missing," said Falcons junior guard Kaylee Spencer, who led all scorers with 17 points. "It's one of our last opportunities to make the postseason."
For Skyline, second-leading scorer Deandra Elcock was on a recruiting trip in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and starting center Naomi Barron was playing club volleyball. David was in attendance but injured and in street clothes.
Still, the Falcons were able to overthrow a late 43-39 Erie lead by scoring 10 consecutive points. Carissa Curtis (13 points) gave the Falcons a 45-43 lead with two free throws and Spencer pushed the lead to six by going 4 for 6 at the line in the final minute.
It was a difficult loss for Erie (13-9, 8-5), which watched as Ochoa and starting center Piper Zeier got injured on nearly the precise same spot on the floor. Ochoa, who scored one point before departing, endured a cut above her right eye and soon fled for stitches.
Zeier (eight points, seven rebounds) was injured early in the fourth quarter and treated for concussion-like symptoms.
"We didn't realize their two starters were out until just before the game," Erie coach Noel Potter said. "It was kind of a mental thing. And then when you lose your two starters, two of your stars, it's time for someone to step up -- and they were mentally not prepared."
Serena Gudino led Erie with 14 points in a contest that had a strange feel. Although it went down to the wire, many reserves from both sides were on the floor during crunch time. Skyline got a lift from backup Briana Robinson (four points, eight rebounds) and Erie from Alyson Romey, who scored two key baskets. But coach Tina Skidmore's Skyline squad that was able to close things out.
In Erie's 47-29 win on Jan. 22, Ochoa scored 21 points. But she wasn't there to rescue the Tigers this time.
"We just wanted to give it back and show them what we had," Spencer said. "Last time, it wasn't our best game against them."
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Skyline 49, Erie 45
At Skyline HS
ERIE (13-9, 8-5)
Gallagher 3 1-2 7, Ochoa 0 1-2 1, Kudrna 1 4-4 7, Gudino 4 6-10 14, Zeier 4 0-0 8, Bauchert 0 0-0 0, Fitzgerald 1 0-0 2, Purcell 0 0-0 0, Romey 2 0-1 4, Wattier 0 0-0 0, Martus 0 0-0 0, Hearon 1 0-0 2, Campbell 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 12-19 45.
SKYLINE (11-11, 5-8)
Spencer 4 8-10 17, A. Curtis 0 0-0 0, Emanuel 0 9-14 9, Steed 3 0-0 6, C. Curtis 5 3-4 13, Zamora 0 0-0 0, Robison 1 2-2 4, Quintana 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 22-30 49.
Score by quarters:
Erie 8 13 12 12 -- 45
Skyline 9 9 11 20 -- 49
3-point field goals -- Erie (1): Kudrna; Skyline (1): Spencer. Total fouls -- Erie 26, Skyline 17. Fouled out -- Bauchert. Technical fouls -- None.