LITTLETON — The Monarch girls basketball team pushed its win streak to four straight on Friday night, but it wasn't pretty.
In the second round of the Jeffco Jungle Jam at Littleton High School, the Coyotes won 44-35 over Class 2A Resurrection Christian. They scored their second lowest points of the season and allowed well above what they averaged defensively through their first four games.
But a win is a win and the Coyotes, who went 4-20 last season, have already matched last winter's win total and are 4-1 through the first two weeks of the 2018-19 campaign. Still, the return of longtime head coach Gail Hook has raised the Coyotes' expectations and they left Littleton High on Friday night with mixed feelings about their latest victory.
"Ugly, pretty, we're always happy when there's another win in the win column," Coyotes senior Nicole Reading said. "But we came out a little slow tonight and we learned from last season when we went 4-20 that we have to come out every night fighting like it's our last breath. We got a win tonight but it was an ugly one and we found out tonight that we still have a lot of room for improvement."
Friday night's game was the first since a season-opening overtime loss in which the Coyotes (4-1) were in a close one.
Though they led the Cougars (2-2) at the end of every quarter, including a 22-17 halftime advantage, it took until the fourth for the Coyotes to separate by more than two or four points in the second half. A pair of made free throws by senior Emerson Herrmann, who averaged 17 points per game last season and currently leads the Coyotes with a 15.6 scoring average, put Monarch up 39-29 with seven minutes left in the game and the Cougars could only climb back to within six points before time eventually ran out.
"I think we were feeling really confident after winning three straight and we'd never played Resurrection Christian before, but they came out here and showed us a little bit," Reading, who led the Cougars with 11 points, said. "So we really had to settle in and play our game. Our league is one of the toughest in Colorado and we'll need to make sure that we're starting hard, playing hard the whole game and finishing hard. We've had like 14 practices and five games now and we need to find a way to put all the pieces together before we get to league."
In their first four games, the Coyotes averaged 28 points against per game. Especially considering how close the game was throughout and how the Coyotes never seemed to find a rhythm offensively, Hook was not thrilled with her team's defense on Friday night.
"We'll take it but it was an ugly win," Hook said. "It's pretty glaring that we've got a lot to work on defensively. We've improved since day one and each day we continue to climb that ladder and get better. We've just got make sure we don't take a giant step forward and two steps back, and I thought we did that tonight defensively. Other than that, it's early in the season and we're getting there."
Monarch will be looking for its fifth straight win when the Coyotes take on Littleton (2-2) on Saturday to conclude the Jeffco Jungle Jam.
Monarch 44, Resurrection Christian 35
At Littleton H.S.
RESURRECTION CHRISTIAN (2-2)
A. Ellis 0 0-0 0, Peacock 4 0-1 8, Stults 1 2-2 5, Hemeyer 2 0-0 4, Runner 1 1-2 3, Ausenhus 0 0-0 0, E. Ellis 0 0-0 0, Perl 5 3-10 13. Totals 13 6-15 35.
Thrower 1 0-0 3, Russo 1 0-0 2, Reading 3 3-4 11, Schmanski 2 0-1 5, Trujillo 1 0-0 2, Butler 0 2-2 2, Taht 1 1-2 3, Isaacson 3 1-2 7, Herrmann 3 3-4 9. Totals 15 10-15 44.
Score by quarters:Resurrection Christian 10 7 12 6 — 35
3-point field goals — Resurrection Christian (1): Stults; Monarch (4): Reading 2, Thrower, Schmanski. Total fouls — Resurrection Christian 14, Monarch 13.