DENVER — Hosted by Manual High School, the Early Season Classic has so far proved to be a tough test for a Skyline girls basketball team that is still searching for an identity.
But the Falcons, like most teams in the state, are simply looking to see where they stand in the early weeks before the holiday break. In the first round of the Classic on Thursday, the Falcons first test of the 2015-14 season was a 64-38 loss to a more seasoned and more athletic Rangeview team.
"For this team, I think it's mostly a confidence thing right now," first-year head coach Gerald Macon said. "I don't think they believe in themselves much and we saw some of that on the court. But when you've had four coaches in four years and you lose one in the middle of the season last year, that kind of stuff happens.
"I'm still confident in them and I still think we're going to end up being a good team. Rangeview was a little better than I thought and they played well. I don't think that we played very well."
The Falcons went 2-1 at the Manual Early Season Classic last year, which was good enough for third place. The Falcons then graduated their top three scorers after going 9-17 last season.
In the absence of graduated leaders Naomi Barron (9.1 ppg), Brianna Robison (6.4 pgg) and Alyssa Steed (5.9 ppg), junior Vanessa Villereal led the Falcons with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting in Thursday's season opener. Senior Leah Osborn scored eight points, 5-foot-7 junior Bella Garcia grabbed 10 rebounds and Kelsey Robison chipped in six points.
The Falcons hung around and trailed by just 10 points to start the fourth quarter.
"The one thing we have as that we'll fight," Macon said.
Paced by a game-high 22 points from Jaelin Whitfield, who scored nine points in the fourth quarter, the Raiders pulled quickly away in the fourth.
The Falcons will play Denver South, which lost to Manual on Thursday, in the first consolation round on Friday. Tipoff will be at 5 p.m.
"We have girls who are athletic and who want to compete and that's what you saw for the first three quarters," Macon said. "But when you have 22 live-ball turnovers that lead to like 43 points, you're not going to win very many games. But I think Leah played well and I thought Vanessa played well off the bench. It's just a matter of putting it all together and we'll continue to work at that."
Rangeview 64, Skyline 38
At Manual H.S.
Leah Osborn 3 2-11 8, Rachel Kissinger 0 0-0 0, Kelsey Robison 1 4-5 6, Chaille Sinner 0 0-0 0, Jeuriye Lopez 0 0-2 0, Johanna Aguilar 0 0-0 0, Bella Garcia 1 1-5 3, Vanessa Villereal 6 2-6 16, Kylie Earhart 0 1-2 1, Bailey Emanuel 2 0-1 4. Totals 13 10-32 38.
Ronke Adehayo 2 0-1 4, Karen Chavira 1 0-0 2, Jaelin Whitfield 10 1-3 22, Tomarrow Whitfield 4 1-2 9, Giselle Williams 0 0-0 0, Dezmonea Antwine 4 1-2 10, Makaylee Jones 4 0-0 10, Breezy Williams 2 0-2 5, Alexis Wall 1 0-0 2. Totals 28 3-10 64.
Score by quarters:Skyline (0-1) 9 10 11 8 — 38 Rangeview (1-0) 14 13 13 24 — 64
3-point field goals — Skyline (2): Villereal 2; Rangeview (5): Jones 2, J. Whitfield, Antwine, Williams. Total fouls — Skyline 11, Rangeview 26. Fouled out — T. Whitfield.