BROOMFIELD — The Broomfield girls basketball team has played the type of schedule and won enough games to where, with just two weeks left in the regular season, the playoffs are almost assured despite being well under .500 at 7-12.
That's the ratings percentage index (RPI) doing its part for the Eagles.
However, it's never too late to score a big win and the Eagles proved on Friday night in a gutsy 47-43 victory against visiting Fort Collins that they are not going to be a team to go down without a fight.
In need of a win after falling out of the Front Range League race with four straight losses, Broomfield came up with their biggest league victory as Abbey Croell hit an inside shot with 1 minute, 12 seconds to go in the game that proved to be the winning points and dropped the Lambkns to 12-7 overall and 4-4 in league.
More importantly, Broomfield beat a team that was ranked higher than it in the RPI — Fort Collins came in at No. 23 while BHS was No. 28 in the ratings system that will help determine the playoff fields for all classifications in the sport.
"I'm real proud of the way we played tonight, and execution has really been improving throughout the season for us," Broomfield head coach Derek Seifried said. "I'm really thrilled about this team from an experience standpoint is that next-play mentality. We know we're going to make mistakes because of some inexperience, but we just have a real nice mentality that we're trying to teach in the program."
"It feels great, especially since we hadn't come out with a win in a while and we knew we had to keep our energy up and stick together," said senior Jenna Casasanta, who pitched in 11 points and five rebounds for Broomfield (3-5 in league). "It's awesome."
Playing in their throwback uniforms, Broomfield looked like the Eagles of old as they were moving well without the ball and playing tight defensively against a bigger team up front.
They keyed on stopping leading scorer Delsie Johnson — she finished with 13 points but made just three field goals — and forced Fort Collins to the outside (6-for-28 shooting from beyond the arc).
When they had the ball, Broomfield used some timely passing to their cutters but also drove the ball to the rim individually with success often. Senior Taylor Gilmore, who was injured to start the season, appeared to have much more agility and Croell was hitting shots at a fevered pace early on.
Croell finished with a game-most 17 points and added nine rebounds. Ten of those points came early as BHS built a 29-20 halftime lead, and she had a couple baskets in the third quarter to keep the Eagles ahead.
Fort Collins had one last run in it as Broomfield took a 43-35 lead with 3:28 left in the game. The Eagles got in a bit of foul trouble and didn't help themselves at the free-throw line, either — and a small 8-0 run from FCHS got it tied at 43-43 with 1:39 left.
After Croell answered, Fort Collins couldn't come up with any baskets and turned the ball over a couple of times, and Steph Peterson made two of four free throws in the final minute to seal it.
"Taylor and Abbey are our best post players and Taylor is our strongest player (physically), so she is going to be a huge help for us going forward," Casasanta said. "For awhile, we had Taylor completely frozen on their one big post, and it worked well. Then it was just getting out to the wings when we needed."
"They made their runs and it was up to us to withstand them," Seifried added. "We're not a team that's going to feel sorry for ourselves for whatever reasons. We're going with continual lessons learned as we head toward the postseason."
Broomfield 47, Fort Collins 43
At Broomfield HS
FORT COLLINS (12-7, 4-4)
Fischer 0 0-0 0, Fitz 2 0-0 6, Johnson 3 7-8 13, Swanson 2 0-0 6, Layne 0 0-0 0, Williams 3 4-5 12, Maitland 3 0-0 6. Totals 13 11-13 43.
BROOMFIELD (7-12, 3-5)
Croell 8 1-4 17, Peterson 0 3-7 3, Kort 1 0-0 2, Steinhauer 0 0-0 0, Gilmore 2 1-4 5, Hoffman 3 0-1 7, Casasanta 4 0-0 11, Pennington 1 0-0 2. Totals 19 5-16 45.
Score by quarters:Fort Collins 11 9 12 11 — 43
Broomfield 14 15 8 10 — 47
3-point field goals — Fort Collins (6): Fitz 2, Swanson 2, Williams 2; Broomfield (4): Casasanta 3, Hoffman 1.