BROOMFIELD -- In three meetings with Monarch last season, Bree Paulson recorded one statistic -- a person foul. The Legacy sophomore's most recent showing against her team's Front Range League rival was much more substantial.
Behind a double-double, Paulson helped her team to a 66-65 overtime win over the Coyotes in the teams' first meeting since the 2012 Class 5A state championship. And while the venue and crowd were not as big as when the Lightning won their first state championship, the action was no less thrilling.
Paulson hit seven of her last 10 free throws to deliver the winning margin in the extra period.
"It was huge relief, because we've had some tough games this week," said Paulson, who finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds. "And they're still a big rival of ours. In fact, I play club ball with a lot of the girls over at Monarch."
Paulson's final run came in the face of a ton of adversity for Legacy (5-5, 1-2). The team entered overtime off its most sluggish offensive quarter. The Coyotes (5-4, 1-1) were finding their groove again with a key player back on the court. And almost immediately, Legacy lost its most potent scorer in the extra period.
Courtney Smith fouled out 1 minute, 40 seconds into overtime, but not after setting the tone for her team. The sophomore center put the finishing touches on her game-high 23 points, scoring the team's opening five points of the period.
"It was a little daunting when she fouled out," Paulson said. "But it made us suck it up. One of our big scorers was out so we had to step it up."
There were six lead changes in overtime before Paulson could deliver her team final lead of the game with her first trip to the line. But even with the sophomore maintaining the winning margin, the game was touch and go. What stymied the Coyotes was missing a slew of shots.
The team hit only 2 of 9 field goal attempts in the period, making it sheer torture for Chris Lewis when Brenna Stimac hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the game.
"One more lucky bounce, one more foul and it would have been a different game," the Monarch coach said.
Heading into halftime, Monarch was building a head of steam behind the strong play of Ellie Dietz. The guard scored 13 of her game-high 23 points in the opening two periods of play. But then out of half, she drew her fourth foul sat for the better part of the third.
When Dietz checked back in in the fourth, she heated up the Coyotes' offense. But the nearly 7-minute gap she was gone was enough for Legacy to play itself back into the game.
"It's tough, because we really wanted this one after last year's loss to them," Dietz said. "We had fire in our bellies ... but it just didn't work out."
Aside from a thrilling finish Craig Van Patten believed his team showed plenty of grit in, the win was also a relief. After two-consecutive losses to start conference play, the coach was getting frazzled.
"We're still in the building process and finding our roles" he said. "But I think we're starting to figure it out."
Follow Elwood on Twitter @ElwoodKShelton.
Legacy 66, Monarch 65
At Legacy HS
MONARCH (5-4, 1-1)
Dietz 7 7-8 23, Stimac 1 0-0 3, Rohn 3 2-2 12, Keatley 2 0-0 4, Cendali 1 2-2 5, Eisler 5 1-4, 11, O'Flannigan 2 3-3 7. Totals 21 15-19 65.
LEGACY (5-5, 1-3)
Lopez 4 0-0 10, Neely 2 2-2 8, Fenton 1 0-0 2, Ca. Smith 3 1-3 7, Paulson 2 12-18 16, Co. Smith 9 3-4 23. Totals 21 18-27 66.
Score by quarters:
Monarch 14 19 9 12 11-- 65
Legacy 14 16 16 8 12-- 66
3-point field goals -- Monarch (5): Dietz 2, Rohn 2, Candali; Legacy (6): Lopez 2, Neely 2, Co. Smith 2. Total fouls -- Monarch 17, Legacy 20. Fouled out -- Co. Smith. Technical fouls -- none.