LOUISVILLE — With losses out-pacing wins, Legacy girls basketball has hit some dim points on the season. But Friday night, the defending state champions definitely found a bright spot in the year.
Weathering a late surge by Monarch, the Lightning came up with a 53-47 win over their Front Range League rival. But the victory had greater significance to Legacy than just another notch on its belt in a regional grudge match.
The victory marked a rare run for the Lightning, with the team earning its first sweep of Monarch since the 2006-07. And to put a cherry on top, it was the third straight win for Legacy over Monarch after topping the Coyotes in last year’s Class 5A title game, too.
“We’ve had some pretty deep lows this season,” Lightning forward Courtney Smith said. “So to get Monarch two times after the state championship was definitely a high.”
Legacy’s most recent win did not come easily. Monarch threw everything it had at the Lightning in the final 16 minutes of play.
The Coyotes were able to chip away at the score and make it a one-basket game at a point in the fourth. But the Coyotes’ streaky scoring held them back. As Kelly O’Flannigan pointed out, it was par for course in her team’s recent outings.
“Our shots have not been falling the past couple of games at the times we want them to,” the MHS sophomore said. “We’re starting to get into a little slump.”
O’Flannigan helped lead the charge back, scoring nine of her 10 points in the second half. But it was the Coyotes’ sense of urgency on defense that fueled the comeback. The team made Legacy cough up the ball 10 times in the final two periods.
The push had Monarch believing it was going to push Legacy to the limit, like the overtime game earlier this season. There was just one problem, Monarch had a tough time translating turnovers into points.
“They started falling toward the end of the game, but just a little too late,” Coyotes coach Chris Lewis said.
To Legacy’s credit, it did not make baskets easy for the Coyotes. The Lightning might have had trouble keeping possession, but did a dynamite job of clogging the lane with their sizable front-court players.
Those same girls also caused their share of trouble on offense.
Courtney Smith, her older sister Caitlyn and Bree Paulson each broke into double digits Friday night. In part, the Lightning trio’s success was fueled by a strong night on the boards.
Courtney Smith had the most pronounced performance, finishing with a 16-point, 11-rebound double-double. Not a bad showing, given she was nursing a broken left hand.
“The doctor said I fractured it during the Horizon game, even though it didn’t show up on the x-ray,” she said. “But it still hurt pretty bad.”
The win was only Legacy’s second in its last five outings, but Smith said it gave her team some momentum for the final stretch of the season.
“We don’t just need to get wins the rest of our schedule,” the center said. “We need to improve on what we did tonight.”
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Legacy 53, Monarch 47
At Monarch HS
LEGACY (10-11, 6-8)
Lopez 1 0-0 3, Neely 1 0-0 3, Gallegos 1 0-0 2, Fenton 0 1-2 1, Ca. Smith 6 2-4 15, Paulson 5 2-2 14, Co. Smith 5 6-6 16. Totals 19 11-14 53.
MONARCH (11-10, 7-7)
Dietz 4 0-0 9, Rohn 5 1-1 11, Keatley 1 0-0 2Anthony 1 2-2 6, Mendicino 1 0-0 2, Eisler 3 0-0 6, O’Flannigan 4 1-2 11. Totals 18 4-5 47.
Score by quarters:
Legacy 15 15 10 13 — 53
Monarch 9 12 11 15 — 47
3-point field goals — Legacy (4): Neely, Ca. Smith, Paulson 2; Monarch (3): Dietz, O’Flannigan 2. Total fouls — Legacy 13, Monarch 14. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.