LONGMONT — Want to impress your coach?
Tell her you want to run a full court press the entire game, commit to it and have it work out.
The Niwot girls, who have been working hard on a press in practice leading up to Tuesday's cross-town rivalry game against Skyline, employed it and made it pay off. The Cougars jumped out to an early double-digit lead then proceeded to frustrate the Falcons up-and-down the court, forcing 28 turnovers and rolling to a 47-34 victory.
"We take a lot of pride in our defense and it has been a little sketchy in the last few games," said Cougars coach Terri Ward, whose team improved to 2-2. "We talked about getting back to what makes us and that's defense.
"And the defense was phenomenal tonight."
And it started with the Niwot guards. Alli Mercier, Allie Colvin, YY Chen and Rosie Setter used what Ward called their "go-go gadget arms that seem to go on forever," and their pace to disrupt everything from simply getting the ball in-bounds to getting it past half court.
And what made it even better for the Cougars was the fact they jumped out to an early lead and made Skyline press a little bit.
"I told them if we were going to do that we were all in," Ward said. "Some times we do and only half of us are committed and others aren't quite sure. But whoever had the ball, we were going to trap them."
Despite the mistakes, Skyline — off to a fabulous 4-1 start — was still within shouting distance at the half, down 24-15. But Gerald Macon's crew came out of the halftime break flat and a 9-0 run to start the third quarter by Niwot made things even tougher for the Falcons.
"We just didn't play well," said Macon, whose schedule doesn't pick back up until January. "I don't want to sugar coat it, we didn't play well. We are better than them, we've played better competition than them, we just didn't play well.
"And to their credit, they won the game. But sometimes bounces don't go your way and then you don't play well and bounces don't go your way and when that happens, tonight happens."
Niwot continued to get the ball inside to sophomore post player Zoe Grant, who led all scorers with 12 points. Setter and Sophie Grant each added nine point for the Cougars.
Skyline was led by freshman Aly McKrola's 10 points and Bella Garcia came off the bench to chip in with eight.
NIWOT 47, SKYLINE 34
Alli Mercier 0 1-2 1, Allie Colvin 1 0-0 3, Rosie Setter 2 5-8 9, YY Chen 2 0-0 5, Meah Ricciardello 0 0-0 0, Mary Gillett 3 2-3 8, Zoe Gonzales 6 0-3 12, Sophie Grant 3 3-8 9, Mel Martinez 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 11-24 47.
Johanna Aguilar 3 1-1 7, Bailey Emanuel 0 0-0 0, Kylie Earhart 1 0-0 2, Ashayla Powers 0 0-0 0, Bella Garcia 3 2-2 8, Lindrey Schendel 2 3-4 7, Aly McKrola 4 2-4 10. Totals 13 8-11 34.
Score by quarters:Niwot 11 13 11 12 — 47
Skyline 6 9 8 11 — 34
3-point field goals — Niwot (2): Colvin, Chen; Skyline (0). Total fouls — Niwot 11; Skyline 20. Fouled out — Earhart.