THORNTON — With only eight girls suited up for varsity full time, the Boulder Panthers are going to have to do a lot with a little this season.
For head coach Sara Clarke, everything starts with defense. If the Panthers can create some havoc on the opponent's scoring end, the opportunities for offense will present themselves in a timely manner.
Such was the case in Wednesday night's opener — a 40-20 victory over Thornton at the THS gym in which only seven Boulder girls were able to participate.
They pressed and they contested, and defensively they were strong on the rebounds to eventually open up the low-scoring affair and turn it in their favor. Just as important, they were able to communicate and switch up different defensive looks, giving even more chances to confuse the Trojans overall.
"Defensively, I was really proud of us because we kept our energy and we came out strong," said Marlee Burridge, one of just three returning players on the team this year. "This was the first game playing together for a lot of us, and having that communication and to be able to click and change defenses and offenses on the fly is exciting and definitely a good start for us."
"We've been working really hard at different situations and hoping to expand our game and throw more at our opponents, and we did nice that way," Clarke said. "I was hoping to see us settle down a little more on offense after playing so helter-skelter on defense, but I understand it being the first game."
For starters, it was the typical rusty-shot kind of game for both teams, but the Panthers saw a few looks drop from the perimeter. Burridge scored five of her 12 points in the first frame, and newcomer Meghan Lewis also had five points in her first 8 minutes as BHS took a 13-2 lead to the second stanza.
The Panthers were able to keep Thornton at a distance thanks to a few more perimeter shots, a big one coming from Burridge with 6 minutes, 30 seconds left in the third quarter that made it 23-12, and Thornton never threatened to rally.
All seven girls that played made a field goal, and Lewis ended up with 10 points, as well.
"I'm asking a lot out of all of them," Clarke said. "It's great that it was their first time playing together and we still saw positive results. They'll learn to feed off each other as we go on."
"We have a small team but I think everyone stepped into their role tonight," Burridge added. "Meghan had a great game, and we're going to need her so I'm excited with her start."
Boulder 40, Thornton 20
At Thornton HS
Emma Bagley 1 2-2 4, Grace Chow 1 0-0 3, Kelly McCarty 2 1-1 5, Meghan Lewis 4 0-0 10, Bijou MacDonald 1 0-1 2, Sydney Arthur 1 2-2 4, Marlee Burridge 5 0-0 12. Totals 15 5-6 40.
Gabriella Sotelo 3 4-6 12, Jaylyn Gallegos 0 0-0 0, Angelina Chavez 0 0-0 0, Jasmine Morales 2 0-0 4, Shamara Handerson 1 2-3 4. Totals 6 6-9 20.
Score by quarters:Boulder 13 7 8 12 — 40
Thornton 2 5 5 8 — 20
3-point field goals — Boulder (5): Burridge 2, Lewis 2, Chow; Thornton (2): Sotelo 2.