LITTLETON — What has been a much-improved 2015-16 season for the Boulder girls basketball team came to an end on Tuesday night.

Making their first state tournament appearance since 2013, the 12th-seeded Boulder Panthers fell 68-35 to the fifth-seeded Dakota Ridge Eagles in the first round of the Class 5A state tournament. For a team that has won a total of eight games over its previous two seasons combined, playing in the state tournament was a big step in the right direction.

"We do feel like we're moving in the right direction," Panthers head coach Sara Klippert said. "I tell my seniors that they're the base of building this program. They put in the work and the effort and the hustle. We may not right now be as skilled as other teams but nobody works harder than we do. That's in place already and now we just need to get the young girls in the gym, getting shots up and doing what we need to match the skills of other teams."

The Panthers (7-17), who won three games last season and five the year before, started strong against the Eagles (16-8) on the road Tuesday. They led 7-6 in the first quarter but the Eagles outscored the Panthers 33-7 to finish the first half, which included long scoring droughts for the Panthers that led to Dakota Ridge runs of 13-0 and 12-0.

Aided by 18 first-half turnovers from Boulder, Dakota Ridge led 39-13 at halftime. The Panthers had fewer turnovers in the second half but still finished with 27 in total. The Panthers finished the third quarter with a 7-0 run but trailed by 27 points to start the fourth.

Boulder outscored Dakota Ridge 17-16 in the final 10 minutes of the game.


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"The turnovers killed us," Klippert said. "Except for a few stretches, we had zero composure in the first half. We allowed their press to really bother us and when we did break the press, that translated into helter skelter offense. Unfortunately, we didn't get to show what we're really capable of because defensively we let them take us out of our game.

"In the first 10 minutes, we executed and we ran our sets, and the energy and the excitement were in our favor. But when bad things started to happen, we didn't adjust and we allowed them to remove us from that game."

Senior point guard Ally Murphy Pauletto (10.7 ppg) scored 17 of the Panthers' 35 points.

Dakota Ridge, which had nine different players score on Tuesday night, will play fourth-seeded George Washington (20-2) on Friday night.

Brad Cochi: cochib@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BradCochi

Dakota Ridge 68, Boulder 35

At Dakota Ridge H.S.

BOULDER (7-17)

Megan O'Herron 0 0-0 , Ally Murphy Pauletto 6 5-6 17, Grace Chow 0 0-0 0, Skelly Aggett-Carosella 0 0-0 0, Kelly McCarty 0 0-0 0, Claire Boyle 0 0-0 0, Grace Garza 3 1-2 8, Bijou MacDonald 0 1-2 1, Sydney Arthur 0 0-0 0, Skye Reich 0 0-0 0, Marlee Burridge 4 0-0 9. Totals 13 7-10 35.

DAKOTA RIDGE (16-8)

Ann Wilkin 4 0-0 9, Caitlin Navratil 3 4-4 10, Aly Suniga 1 0-2 3, Mia Valerio 1 0-2 3, Mckenzie Wilhelm 0 0-0 0, Alexa Buchli 4 0-0 8, Anne Kotarba 5 3-6 13, Becky Holley 4 0-0 9, Skylar Lodice 3 1-2 7, Megan Sansburn 1 2-4 4, Maggie Hawley 0 0-0 0, Katie Day 0 0-0 0. Totals 27 11-20 68.

Score by quarters:

Boulder 9 4 12 10 — 35

Dakota Ridge 19 20 13 16 — 68

3-point field goals — Boulder (2): Garza, Burridge; Dakota Ridge (3): Wilkin, Valerio, Holley. Total fouls — Boulder 20, Dakota Ridge 12.