FREDERICK — Frederick junior Shea Chavez needs to figure this whole birthday thing out.
The idea is to be showered with gifts, cake and whatever else your heart desires. But on Tuesday night, it was the birthday girl that provided her school and her team the biggest gift of all, scoring 20 points in the Warriors 46-28 Class 4A first round playoff game against Palisade.
The 24th-seeded Warriors (13-11), who nabbed their first playoff victory since 2001, will travel to No. 9 Thomas Jefferson on Friday night for a 7 p.m. tip-off.
Best birthday ever?
"Completely," said Chavez, who was going out after the game to celebrate her 17th birthday with her team.
It looked early on like Frederick might run the visitors from the Western Slope right out of the gym. The Warriors were up 16-3 on the 41st-seeded Bulldogs after one quarter before the complacency set in.
"We play in lulls, we came out played a great first quarter, but we've had a tendency this season to do that," said Frederick coach Brett Anderson, who was sporting a nifty black eye after taking an elbow in practice from Tori Dufour during a drill. "We think we are good and we are in business, but we just don't stay consistent from there."
And Palisade slowly chipped away at the lead on the strength of Anita Ramos, who score six of her team high 11 in the second quarter, and made things interesting going to the half.
After back-to-back five-point quarters that allowed the Bulldogs to stay within striking distance going to the fourth, Frederick needed someone to step up and it was Chavez.
"(Coach) said going to the fourth, we are not up by enough now to win the game," Chavez said. "I took that personally, and we worked as a team, but we needed that one person to stand up, take charge and go score the points."
With leading scorer Aspen Dufour — whose highlight of the night was a monstrous first quarter block on a Bulldogs fast break — battling foul trouble most of the contest, the onus was on Chavez to pick up the pace and she did. She scored nine of her 20 in the fourth and helped her team pull away.
"We picked it up when we needed it most, because we were in that huddle saying we've got to play and protect our home court," Andersen said. "And that's exactly what they did."
Their next opponent was in the stands taking furious mental notes about them, and both Chavez and her teammates knew they were there.
"They can see you in person and it is so much different breaking down film, and when you see them in person, you can see everyone's attitudes," Chavez said. "It'll be a tough game, but I'm excited for it. I know we can compete with anyone as long as we plays as a team and try our hardest."
FREDERICK 46, PALISADE 28
Bollinger 0 0-2 0, Newton 0 0-0 0, MacAskill 1 3-5 5, Mello 1 1-2 3, Norton 1 3-4 5, Miller 2 0-0 4, Ramos 4 3-5 11. Totals 9 10-18 28.
E. Hurtado 0 0-0 0, DeSantis 1 0-2 2, K. Tarnowski 0 0-0 0, A. Dufour 3 2-7 8, Teller 0 0-0 0, M. Tarnowski 2 2-4 7, Hemelstrand 0 0-0 0, Chavez 7 5-8 20, T. Dufour 3 0-0 9, H. Hurtado 0 0-2 0, Castillo 0 0-0 0, Putallaz 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 9-23 46.
Score by quarters:Palisade31276—28
3-point field goals — Palisade (0): None; Frederick (5): T. Dufour 3, M. Tarnowski, Chavez. Total fouls — Palisade 16, Frederick 15. Fouled out — Ramos.