LYONS — Kaitlyn Day, the leading scorer for the Dawson School Mustangs, had zero points on 0-of-6 shooting in the first half. The team as a whole was also off with just 17 points total.
For the Mustangs on Tuesday, it was another game they knew they would have to grind away in order to find a way to leave Lyons with a road win.
Behind a strong defensive effort and key contributions on offense early to stay in front, the Mustangs stayed the course and won 39-18 to remain in second place in the Mile High League standings.
Even with the win, the team didn't feel they had their best performance of the season against the Lions.
"Honestly, I don't think we played our best game today," Dawson's Madison Day said. "It was kind of a slower game. In these upcoming games, we need to be more aggressive on offense and put up more points."
Lyons, like many teams this season, ran a box-and-one defense with one defender following Kaitlyn Day across the court and the other four defenders playing in a zone defense behind her. Hannah Paton drew the assignment to shadow Day for the Lions and made things tricky for her to catch in open space and find room to work early. When shots were taken by Day, they clanked off the rim early.
With Day not getting good looks early, Dawson found early shots against the zone inside from Kate Gallop and Maddy Timms. Madison Day was able to break down the zone with dribble penetration to get either a runner in the lane or to kick out to an open player.
"A lot of teams are going to see us looking for Kaitlyn on offense, but we realize we all have to look to score," Madison said. "Everybody needs to be aggressive in going towards the basket."
The shots Dawson was getting were the ones Lyons allowed it to take, but they were not falling. It came down to a hard-nosed defensive effort to limit Jazmyn Enny and Avery Joy on the other end for the Mustangs to get the win.
From forcing turnovers to holding Lyons to 18 percent shooting, the Mustangs survived the rough first half to lead 17-10.
"I think our defense has been remaining strong coming into all of these games," Madison said. "We knew if our offensive game isn't there, we have to keep up our game defensively, especially in this one."
Kaitlyn Day would finally hit her first shot with 1:21 remaining in the third and followed with a 3-pointer later to push the Mustangs to a 24-14 lead. It would be more than enough of a lead as Dawson held Lyons to 15 percent shooting from the field, including a long drought of 10 minutes without a point late in the second half.
Madison Day led the Mustangs with 10 points and both Gallop and Timms finished with eight. Most of their points came in the first half to keep the team in front. Kaitlyn Day scored all nine of her points in the second half to help spark the big run late.
The win follows a pattern of success the team has used to win low-scoring games in league. Dawson will look to solidify the second spot in the league standings when they travel to Ault on Friday to face Highland (10-3, 5-1), who remain right on their tails.
"We have to keep working," Madison said. "Highland is a big game for us. If we can pull out a win, we'll be looking good for our conference."
Kylee Udovich and Hope Kincaid each had four points to lead Lyons in the loss. The Lions will host Union Colony Prep on Friday.
Dawson 39, Lyons 18
At Lyons High School
DAWSON (11-3, 6-1)
Madison Day 4 1-3 10, Kaitlyn Day 3 2-2 9, Kate Gallop 3 2-3 8, Maddy Timms 4 0-0 8, Alexis Gilio 1 0-0 2, Alex Dunbar 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 5-8 39.
LYONS (8-7, 4-4)
Kylee Udovich 2 0-0 4, Hope Kincaid 1 2-2 4, Jazmyn Enny 1 0-2 2, Hannah Paton 1 0-0 2, Mila Faubus 1 0-0 2, Hannah Schweiger 1 0-0 2, Avery Joy 1 0-4 2. Totals 8 2-10 18.
Score by quarters:Dawson (11-3, 6-1) 10 7 7 15 — 39
3-point field goals — Dawson(2): Madison Day, Kaitlyn Day; Lyons(0). Total fouls — Dawson 14, Lyons 14.