LITTLETON — Unlike the Grand Junction Tournament the Boulder girls basketball team participated in to open last season, the Columbine Rebels with a Cause event this year gave the Panthers a better base of confidence to work with.
Improving is an option, if the Panthers are willing to embrace the learning curve, one which steepened in a 47-27 loss to Canon City on Saturday in the tournament's third-place game.
The tournament closed out with a tough one against the Tigers (3-1), but Boulder's big win over Conifer on Thursday showed the girls success will come with teamwork and smart play.
"The game we won, we had less than 10 turnovers and that is going to be a really big deal for us," said Grace Garza after the Panthers dropped to 1-2 for the year. "We also moved the ball around and got some good inside shots. We need to be able to get our bigs involved.
"We broke the press (Saturday) and then threw the ball away when we were on offense. We have to take better care of the ball."
In a game coach Sara Clarke said was a complete opposite of their 49-23 win over the Lobos, the Panthers got off to a rough start from the floor with some early foul trouble and turnovers.
They picked things up in the second frame, especially defensively where they managed to outscore CCHS 8-7, but a scoreless third period denied Boulder the opportunity to crawl back into the once manageable game.
Boulder had 11 turnovers in the first quarter, and Canon City was already in the single bonus in the waning seconds of the opening frame. The Tigers converted on open-floor transition opportunities to gain a 18-8 lead heading to the second.
Garza, who finished with five points and eight rebounds, nailed a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the half to bring the score to 25-16 in favor of Canon City, but Boulder missed all six field goals and four free-throw attempts in the third as it was outscored 14-0.
The Panthers made just four of their 14 free throws.
They showed life in the fourth quarter, particularly Garza (three rebounds, two blocked shots) and Kiara Goodman — the latter who scored six of her team-leading nine points in the frame.
"Defense is where we can stay in the game, so that's where I tried to give us a spark," Garza said.
Marlee Burridge had five points and Bijou Macdonald added four for BHS, who shot 26 percent from the floor.
"One person can't do it all for us, and we've talked about that," coach Clarke said. "We know as a smaller team we are going to have to out-run and out-work other teams, and today we just didn't do that."
Canon City was led by Katie Till's 12 points and seven rebounds.
Canon City 47, Boulder 27
At Columbine Rebels With a Cause Tournament
Canon City (3-1)
Marissa McIntosh 2 2-2 6, Abigail Sanchez 1 2-2 4, Journey Short 2 1-2 7, Lydia Bright 0 1-2 1, Amanda Ary 0 0-1 0, Whitney Boehm 2 2-5 6, Ellie Till 0 0-0 0, Sunny Short 1 0-0 2, Katie Till 4 3-5 12, Elizabeth McCalla 4 0-0 9. Totals 16 11-19 47.
Allyson Murphy Pauletto 0 1-4 1, Kiara Goodman 3 3-6 9, Pasquelle Aggett-Carosella 1 0-0 3, Claire Boyle 0 0-0 0, Grace Garza 2 0-0 5, Bijou Macdonald 2 0- 2 4, Sydney Arthur 0 0-0 0, Marlee Burridge 2 0-2 5, Kelly McCarty 0 0-0 0. Totals 10 4-14 27.
Score by quarters:Canon City 18 7 14 8 — 47
Boulder 8 8 0 11 — 27
3-point field goals — Canon City (4): J. Short 2, K. Till, McCalla; Boulder (3): Burridge, Garza, Aggett-Carosella. Total fouls — Canon City 16, Boulder 18.