BOULDER — Both the Shining Mountain and Dawson School girls basketball teams came into Thursday's game on a recent losing streak. The Lions opened the season 3-0 but dropped their next three games, while Dawson's 4-0 start was followed with back-to-back losses.
After falling behind early and losing their leading scorer early to foul trouble, the Mustangs (5-2) rallied in the second half and held on to escape with a 40-37 win over the Lions (3-4).
"It was great to have some kids step up," Dawson coach JR Sagner said. "It was good to see them get it."
The Mustangs faced some early trouble with Frances Hilliard scoring 10 points in the first quarter and Olivia Jabari also contributing on offense for the Lions. Things became more difficult for Dawson when Kaitlyn Day, the leading scorer at 18.3 points per game, picked up her third foul in the second quarter and was forced to sit the rest of the first half.
Stepping up in her absence was Madison Day, who helped the Mustangs cut the 10-point lead down to three before the half with four points. Her scoring continued in the third quarter with a 3-pointer to tie the game and four more points to finish with 11.
"I knew I had to step up," Madison Day said. "We didn't have a point guard then, and we needed everyone to step up at that point. I knew I just had to score some points."
Tied at 30-30 going into the fourth, the Mustangs scored the first six points of the quarter from Alex Dunbar, Kate Gallop and Kaitlyn Day. Dunbar had another look inside and Alexis Gilio made a big layup late to keep Dawson in front for the rest of the game.
The contributions from other role players on offense has been a focus for Sagner as teams have started to put their defensive focus on the Day girls early.
"We're starting to prepare for that," Sagner said. "Some of our other bigs and post players have really stepped up for us. They are putting the ball in the hoop for us, which is a good feeling."
The Lions saw their losing streak increase to four games, with Hilliard the top scorer on Thursday with 16 points. She finished 4-of-14 from behind the 3-point line.
Now the focus shifts to Mile High League play for the Mustangs after winter break. They will open conference play on the road with the Longmont Christian Warriors (4-1) on Jan. 8.
"We were the underdogs coming in, but we've learned we have what it takes to beat the top-end teams," Madison Day said. "I think we've gained a lot of confidence now."
Dawson 40, Shining Mountain 37
At Shining Mountain High School
Kaitlyn Day 5 2-3 13, Madison Day 3 3-4 11, Alex Dunbar 3 0-0 6, Alexis Gilio 2 0-0 5, Kate Gallop 2 1-4 5.
Shining Mountain (3-4)
Frances Hilliard 6 0-0 16, Olivia Jabari 4 0-0 8, Sophia Matarrese 3 1-2 7, Lola Conaway 3 0-2 6.
Score by quarters:Dawson (5-2) 8 13 9 10 — 40
3-point field goals — Dawson (4): Madison Day 2, Kaitlyn Day, Gilio; Shining Mountain (4): Hilliard 4.