Yes, the Fairview Knights girls basketball team have their own 'Big 3', with Ashley Panem, Denali Pinto and Grace O'Neill representing one of the finest returning trios in the Front Range League.
But for the rest of the Fairview team in their opening game — for most of them the first time they have played in a varsity contest — simply deferring to those three was not going to get the job done against preseason No. 8-ranked Pine Creek.
Even though the shots weren't falling for everyone, the work put in on the cuts to get open, not to mention the overall defensive effort against the Eagles in a 55-34 home win, represented a lot of what head coach Rod Beauchamp wanted to see from his fresh-faced crew.
"I thought all of the girls did some great things tonight. It's nice to get those role players emerge, and that was what I was looking for to start the season," Beauchamp said. "We're not going to win games with just those three girls.
"We took some not so good shots at times and we need to be a little more patient sometimes, but everyone looks for their shots and that is a good thing."
Kelsey Webster, a junior, was the only other player coming into the season that had seen varsity play. Seniors Sydney Rios, Lena Haddad and Emma Protsko all made their debuts, as did freshman Izzy Munson and junior Faith Anderson.
They all kept the Eagles in check on their scoring end, forcing 13 first-half turnovers, and Rios got in on the scoring with three early field goals on her way to nine total points. By the end of the first quarter, most of the girls had played and FHS had forged a 18-5 lead.
While all the Knights were doing the hustle work, the three top scorers took over in the middle two quarters to keep Fairview comfortably ahead. O'Neill and Panem each hit a pair of key open 3-pointers in the 16-minute span, and Pinto produced one of the fancier plays of the night with a backdoor cut and finish with 10 seconds left before half, a traditional 3-point play that put FHS up 31-11 for a lead the Eagles never threatened.
Panem finished with 20 points, O'Neill had 13 and Pinto had nine for the contest.
O'Neill a senior who has seen a lot of success over her two years with the varsity, said that the Knights have been close all off-season as they have developed and that the overall production from everyone was positive.
"I think the start helped us a bunch, because we came out with a lot of energy and we were able to knock down some shots," O'Neill said. "It set the tone, and we did a good job moving the ball around.
"We have good chemistry this year, and we just all want to help each other out. It's really good."
"Grace stepped up and hit some 3's from the outside, and being able to post up Denali I think will create some mismatches," Beauchamp said.
Fairview will keep a small lineup throughout the season, swinging players up from junior varsity when needed as Anderson was on Thursday. The Knights travel to Grand Junction on Friday to face the Tigers before coming home to play in next week's Fairview Festival.
Fairview 55, PS
PINE CREEK (0-1)
Megan Keller 0 0-0 0, Jade Odom 3 1-2 7, Spencer Lindsey 3 3-4 10, Kate Ogrodny 2 0-0 4, Courtney Stanton 3 2-2 8, Mackenzie Collins 1 0-0 2, Morgan Miller 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 8-10 34.
Sydney Rios 4 0-0 9, Lena Haddad 0 0-0 0, Denali Pinto 4 1-2 9, Izzy Munson 0 0-0 0, Grace O'Neill 5 1-1 13, Emma Protsko 0 0-0 0, Ashley Panem 7 2-2 20, Kelsey Webster 2 0-0 4, Faith Anderson 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 4-5 55.
Score by quarters:Pine Creek 5 6 10 13 — 34
3-point field goals — Pine Creek (2): Lindsay, Ogrodny; Fairview (7): Panem 4, O'Neill 2, Rios 1.