LYONS -- Having already experienced Frontier Academy's tenacious full-court defense in an early-season loss at the Canine Classic Tournament in Greeley, the Lyons girls basketball squad knew it would need to keep its composure if it hoped to have any success in the teams' rematch Thursday night.
While the Lions did prove more offensively-capable this time around, they were again unable to keep pace with their opponents' up-tempo style of play, eventually falling 67-40 at home.
"We knew that they were going to press us the whole game," Lyons head coach Sandy Mitchell said. "We tried to prepare in practice yesterday to break their press and we had a few momentary lapses, but I thought our kids played pretty well."
Lyons (1-9, 0-2) was able to put up just 21 points against the Wolverines when they met in early December, and came into the game averaging only 25.6 per contest on the year. But the hosts appeared much more efficient early on, going blow for blow with the Wolverines for much of the first quarter. A 3-pointer by Maizie Grace with just more than 2 minutes to play in the opening period drew LHS within three at 14-11.
But Lyons' momentum came to a grinding halt when point-center Olivia Raspotnik hit the deck hard after being fouled while dribbling across the timeline, forcing her to leave the court for the final 90 seconds of the first. With the Lions' primary ball-handler out, the Wolverines (6-5, 1-1) took full advantage, forcing four straight turnovers leading to seven points and taking a 24-11 lead at the end of one.
"Its tough trying to bring up the ball and deal with all the pressure, but I know in the end it makes me a better player," Raspotnik said of her ball-handling responsibilities. "It makes our team have more energy when I can do well and pump us up." LHS' lone senior was able to return and play the remainder of the game without issue, ultimately finishing with a double-double of 17 points and 13 rebounds. But her effort was not enough to overcome the number of turnovers forced by Frontier Academy throughout the night. Trailing 37-21 at intermission, the Lions came out of the locker room and gave the ball away on five straight possessions to begin the half.
Lyons made one final push midway through the third, running off seven points in a row to trim the lead down to 15 with 3:30 to play in the period. But a timeout by the Wolverines refocused the visitors, who proceeded to go on an 11-0 run of their own and put the game out of reach for good.
Despite the gap in the final score, Mitchell, who is in her first year at the helm of the squad, seems to be pleased with the direction her group is headed in. And while wins have been hard to come by thus far, she is well aware that there is still plenty of time to turn some heads.
"The beauty of it is we are such a young team," Mitchell said. "We have one senior who is a superstar (in Raspotnik), and she should get all the accolades she gets. ... (But) all we continue to do is build every game. We played the game stronger today than we have all season, and I think as the season progresses, look out 2A because we are going to be ready and come get you at the end of the season."
Frontier Academy 67, Lyons 40
At Lyons HS
FROTNIER ACADEMY (67)
Thaxton 4 2-2 10, Rose 5 0-0 12, Lyman 2 1-2 6, Olson 4 0-0 8, Zenk 0 1-2 1, Rasmuson 4 0-0 11, Wagner 5 5-8 15, Granillo 2 0-0 4. Totals 26 9-14 67.
Raspotnik 6 4-11 17, S Sundrud 0 0-0 0, Subbert 4 0-0 8, Walko 2 0-2 4, Simms 3 0-1 6, Grace 2 0-0 5. Totals 17 4-14.
Score by quarters:
Frontier Academy 24 13 20 10 -- 67
Lyons 11 10 12 7 -- 40
3-point field goals -- Lyons (2): Rospotnik, Grace; Frontier Academy (6): Rose 2, Lyman Rasmuson 3. Total fouls -- Lyons 10, Frontier Academy 15. Fouled out -- None. Technical fouls -- None.