BROOMFIELD — It is one of the great mysteries of Colorado prep sports ... the Western Slope.
For years the big schools in and around Grand Junction have been an enigma, and when they come across the hills to the Metro area, teams are never quite sure what to expect.
Such was the case with a very young, but very talented Fruita Monument girls team that entered Tuesday night's Sweet 16 game at Broomfield with nothing to lose and riding an eight game winning streak.
Eagles coach Derek Seifried and his staff did their homework over the weekend and Broomfield played a spectacular defensive game against Riley Snyder and the Wildcats, winning 45-35 to advance to the Great 8 on Friday at the Denver Coliseum.
"Our defense has been really solid as of late. It seems like our girls have a better understanding of the rotations now," said Seifried, whose team will face a Ralston Valley squad they beat 62-55 last month in Denver on Friday. The Mustangs dispatched Doherty 56-31.
"These girls are quick learners, quick to absorb teaching and quick to put it into implementation. That is what is fun about coaching them," Seifried said.
The key for the Broomfield defense was to make sophomore Snyder, who went off for 35 in the previous round against Chaparral, work for her points.
Early on the Wildcats (20-5) were able to create open looks off of her movement and had Broomfield down 11-8 after one quarter despite turning the ball over seven times in the opening eight minutes.
Broomfield opened the second quarter on an 8-0 run, that came with the most unlikely of offensive contributions from Taylor Gilmore. Known more for her accolades in the circle for Seifried's wife Paula on the softball diamond, Gilmore knocked down a 3-pointer that seem to energize the Eagles.
"Every team needs a kid like Taylor Gilmore that does the laundry, does the dishes and does a lot of that dirty work and that is what she gives you," Derek Seifried said. "Her understanding of the game has evolved so much from the beginning of the season and the thing I love about her is that she is not afraid to make mistakes."
Her presence in the paint early on as well as Brenna Fankell and Delaynie Byrne caused a plethora of problems for Fruita. Officially the Eagles finished with six blocked shots, but they altered at least a dozen more.
Fruita went away from their man-to-man defense and it allowed the Eagles, who have faced a lot of 2-3 zones this year, to relax and find their rhythm offensively. Although it was never 100 percent clean, it was efficient enough, especially over a big 11-2 run in the third quarter.
"Third quarter has been our best all season, especially after we make the adjustment, the girls come in with a little energy, swagger and a lot of confidence knowing that we own that third quarter," Seifried said.
Brenna Chase paced the Eagles with 16 points and Fankell added 12 . Byrne chipped in with nine points.
Snyder led the way for Fruita Monument, which doesn't have a single senior and has a main rotation of six sophomores and two juniors, with 14 points. Angelique Gall came off the bench for 11 points.
Broomfield 45, Fruita Monument 35
FRUITA MONUMENT (20-5)
Katie Parks 0 0-2 0, Kaylee Smith 0 0-0 0, Mackenzie Wells 1 1-2 3, Sitori Carver 1 2-6 4, Alexis Prall 1 0-0 3, Angelique Gall 2 7-9 11, Riley Snyder 6 1-2 14, Alyssa Maraschin 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 11-21 35.
Abby Croell 1 0-0 2, Steph Peterson 0 0-0 0, Maddie Kern 1 0-0 2, Brenna Chase 4 7-7 16, Jenna Casasanta 0 0-0 0, Brenna Fankell 4 4-5 12, Delaynie Byrne 3 2-5 9, Taylor Gilmore 1 1-2 4. Totals 14 14-19 45.
Score by quarters:Fruita Monument 11 7 3 14 — 35
Broomfield 8 15 11 11 — 45
3-point field goals — Fruita Monument (2): Prall, Snyder; Broomfield (3): Chase, Byrne, Gilmore. Total fouls — Fruita Monument 17; Broomfield 16.