FORT COLLINS — They had them right where they wanted them.
It was early in the third quarter and the 27th-seeded Broomfield Eagles were all square against the heavily favored and 6th-seeded Fossil Ridge SaberCats in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs.
But as quickly as the good vibes had hovered around the girls clad in blue, they were quickly dashed.
Fossil Ridge's defense started turning the Eagles over and it was translating to easy baskets on the other end. When the smoke settled at the end of the third quarter, the SaberCats had finished up a 17-2 run to close it out and eventually rolled to a 59-32 victory in the Alice Barron Region.
"The turnover bug bit hard," said Broomfield coach Derek Seifried, whose team finishes the season 10-15. "You've got to take care of the ball and you've got to defend, rebound and hit free throws.
"And in some aspects we did that well, but we just weren't as fundamental as we were in the first half."
It was a tough pill to swallow for the Eagles, who had the game in their hands.
"This is exactly what happened the last time we played them, we were right there with them and we just kind of fell apart," said senior Jenna Casasanta, whose team lost 63-41 at home to Fossil Ridge during their regular season Front Range League game in January.
"We were pumped coming into the second half."
As well they should have been.
Casasanta, who simply couldn't and literally didn't miss(she went 5 for 5 from 3-point range), instantly charged her team coming out of the locker room. She hit her fifth 3-pointer that was followed shortly by an Abby Croell lay-up.
Game tied 25-25.
The wheels started to wobble a bit from there.
The combination of eight third-quarter turnovers — they finished with 28 for the game — and the inability to defend the SaberCats post tandem of Britton Mishak and Reilly Dunn exacerbated the situation.
"The did a nice job attacking the interior, with a nice high-low and any time a girl can just bury you in the paint, it's to her advantage," said Seifried, who was happy with the progression of his team this season. "And their big did a nice job of that."
Mishak and Dunn combined for 25 points for Fossil Ridge, who will host No. 11 Regis Jesuit in the Sweet 16. Ashley Steffeck also had 12 for the SaberCats.
Casasanta scored all 12 of the Eagles' first quarter points on 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 17 points in her final prep game.
"We definitely had our ups and downs this season, but in the last few games we played, we came together as a team and as a family," Casasanta said. "We definitely played better as the season went on."
FOSSIL RIDGE 59, BROOMFIELD 32
At Fossil Ridge
Abby Croell 4 1-6 9, Steph Peterson 1 0-2 2, Juliet Steinhauer 0 0-0 0, Lydia Putsch 0 0-0 0, Vanessa Kort 0 0-0 0, Abby Lenz 0 0-0 0, Jessica Hoffman 1 0-0 2, Jenna Casasanta 6 0-2 17, Ellie Keeler 0 0-0 0, Brook Pennington 0 0-0 0, Jenna Burgesser 0 0-0 0, Taylor Gilmore 1 0-0 2. Totals 13 1-12 32.
FOSSIL RIDGE (19-5)
Rachel Novak 0 0-0 0, McKenna Schultz 3 0-0 6, Ashley Steffeck 4 2-4 12, Katey Guzman 0 3-4 3, Kylie Metcalf 1 1-2 3, Jorie Vallejo 1 0-0 2, Zaeleigh Barela 1 0-0 2, Kaysen Hobbs 2 0-0 4, Kaylee Menefee 1 0-0 2, Raeghan Lang 0 0-0 0, Britton Mishak 3 8-9 14, Reilly Dunn 4 3-5 11. Totals 20 17-24 59.
Score by quarters:Broomfield 12 8 7 5 — 32
Fossil Ridge 16 9 15 17 — 59
3-point field goals — Broomfield (5): Casasanta 5; Fossil Ridge (2): Steffeck 2. Total fouls — Broomfield 17, Fossil Ridge 14.