LOUISVILLE — With a full one-third of their schedule already complete, the Monarch girls basketball team just might be the most excited squad in the state for the rest period that is coming up with the holiday break.
Considering the opponents they've played and the fact they are only seven deep on the varsity roster, the Coyotes are in a good spot at 5-3, as well, with one more game to go before the down time.
Tuesday night represented that third loss, but Peyton Carter and her small band of teammates might not be worse for wear after falling to Highlands Ranch 59-51 at the Monarch gym. It was yet another strong test for MoHi ahead of the Front Range League schedule that awaits in January.
"We just played the No. 3 team in the state to an eight-point game, and for all the things we learned in that game the biggest might be that we can play with anyone," Carter said after the game, attended also by her future coach at the University of Colorado, JR Payne. "There are some defensive things like getting around screens, and turnovers in the fourth quarter ... finishing shots. It was a big learning game for us."
Monarch, with just two seniors, three sophomores and two freshmen, has already played the likes of Arapahoe (No. 7 in 5A), Mesa Ridge (No. 5 in 4A) and D'Evelyn (4A No. 6). Add to that list the Falcons, who moved up to No. 3 with a 4-1 start. They lost to the Warriors by four points and the Grizzlies by just five.
Tuesday night was another close one throughout, but second chance points and turnovers favored Ranch, coached by none other than Caryn Jarocki. In the eight-point win, Highlands Ranch was able to put up 12 more field goal attempts, seven more free-throw attempts and only turned the ball over six times.
Monarch was out-rebounded 21-14 and had 16 turnovers. To Carter, there were a lot more small intricacies of the game that Ranch exploited.
"They were a fast team and we didn't do as good of a job of getting back on transition defense," she said. "We had a lot of times where we got fouls and they got free throws because we weren't down the court. That killed us the first half but we got better. The second half was more about giving up offensive rebounds."
Still, the Coyotes were in the game the entire time. After gaining a 17-9 lead, Highlands Ranch fought back in the second quarter but MoHi still led 25-24 after Nicole Reading's third 3-pointer of the first half beat the buzzer.
The teams continued to exchange points for the first half of the third stanza, but Ranch gained a 33-27 lead at the 3 minute, 53 second mark of the third with a Tommi Olson 3-pointer and never let it go.
Olson, a quick guard match up against Carter, had 16 points in the second half including all four of her 3-pointers. Her biggest shot might have come with 2:16 left in the game, a spot-up 3-pointer that made it 53-45 after Carter had hit a trey to make it a five-point game just seconds earlier.
Carter finished with 22 points, as well. Jasmine Jeffcoat added 12 points and seven rebounds for Monarch, which will play Pomona on Friday.
Highlands Ranch 59, Monarch 51
At Monarch HS
HIGHLANDS RANCH (5-1)
Matthews 0 1-2 1, Beck 3 2-4 9, Olson 7 4-5 22, Humbarger 2 4-4 9, Watts 4 0-0 9, Neubert 3 3-3 9, Martinez 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 14-18 59.
Morgan 0 0-0 0, Carter 7 6-6 22, Reading 3 0-0 9, Deitsch 0 0-0 0, Herrmann 4 0-2 8, Jeffcoat 5 2-3 12. Totals 19 8-11 51.
Score by quarters:Highlands Ranch 12 12 17 18 — 59
Monarch 17 8 12 14 — 51
3-point field goals — Highlands Ranch (7): Olson 4, Beck, Humbarger, Watts; Monarch (5): Reading 3, Carter 2. Fouled out — Watts, Reading.