DENVER — A number of standout underclassmen has Erie feeling excited about the future of its girls' basketball program.
The present doesn't look too bad, either.
The young brass led the way as Erie rolled past Niwot 52-26 at Metro State University on Friday afternoon, giving the Tigers their fourth win in five games.
"They're a good group of young kids and they come to practice every day, and they work hard and are getting better, better and better," second-year coach Sarah Pfeifer said. "They know how to play basketball. They're new to my system, so they're still learning the ins-and-outs of that but they're quick learners."
Freshman Grace Moyers scored 10 points and sophomore Sami Erbe had nine in a game that was rarely in doubt for Erie. Junior Alyssa Barnett and senior Lauren Kia added eight points apiece.
With senior Kaitlyn Patterson out with injury, Kia was the only senior on the court for the Tigers.
Asked if the 4-1 start was surprising with such a young roster, Pfeifer smiled.
"I have confidence in my kids, so it's not to me," she said. "Tomorrow we play D'Evelyn and that'll be a big test for us and that'll tell me a lot about where we are. But they're not going to show up to a game and not play their best — and their best is pretty good."
Erbe scored seven straight points to push the lead to 9-2 in the opening minutes. The sophomore was in attack mode early, scoring in the paint and getting to the free throw line.
Erbe finished with all nine of her points in the half and Moyers had six — including a buzzer-beating runner at the end of the first quarter — as the Tigers went up 27-12.
The Tigers continued to build their lead in the second half. After Erbe had a potential 3-point play waved off because of a charge, freshman Edie Morrow scored a bucket in contact and hit her free throw to make it 44-22 late in the fourth.
The goal from here, Erbe said, is "just to work better as a team and get better."
Niwot lost its third straight game, scoring less than 30 points in each. The Cougars graduated seven seniors from last season. Niwot coach Terri Ward said her team is still trying to find its identity — "trying to figure out 'who are we?', 'what are we?', 'what do we do?'"
Brent W. New: email@example.com and @brentwnew
Erie 52, Niwot 26
At Metro State University
Noble 0 0-2 0, Gillette 2 0-1 4, Sims 1 0-1 2, Crall 0 1-3 1, Archibold 1 1-2 3, Demmel 1 1-3 3, Luna 0 0-2 0, Wardle 0 0-2 0, Beaton 2 0-0 4, Baines 2 2-3 6, Sieben 1 1-2 3.
Chambers 0 0-0 0, Moyers 5 0-1 10, Berringer 0 0-0 0, Erbe 3 3-6 9, Barnett 3 2-4 8, Altshuler 1 0-0 2, Hill 1 0-0 2, Morrow 3 1-1 7, Welty 1 0-0 2, Kia 3 2-3 8, Hefner 2 0-2 4.
Score by quarters:Niwot (2-4) 6 6 9 5 — 26
3-point field goals — There were no 3-point field goals. Total fouls — Niwot 15; Erie 24. Fouled out — Welty. Technical fouls — There were no technical fouls issued.