LAFAYETTE — Peak to Peak girls basketball coach Chad Rathbun wasn’t exactly sitting on pins and needles waiting for junior Michaela Wildbacher to have a breakout game, but he did see the potential in the junior foreign exchange student for quite a while.
Wednesday night, as the Pumas opened up league play against St. Mary’s Academy, the Austrian native flat-out put on a show.
As part of a Peak to Peak offense that moved the ball exceptionally well — and moved bodies without the ball even better — Wildbacher scored 22 points on 7 of 12 shooting, helping the Pumas to a comfortable 56-41 win over the Wildcats.
When Rathbun told her of her point total at the end of the game, Wildbacher was elated. The coach was pretty happy to have seen the effort, too.
“Michaela’s just learning the American game but she’s also getting comfortable,” Rathbun said afterward. “Tonight we finally saw what she is capable of. She’s been right there, but tonight was that kind of breakout game.”
Watching the Pumas work on offense was a thing of beauty on Wednesday, and Wildbacher was aggressive to the basket while at the same time showing an excellent shooting touch from outside. She took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 points in that frame with a strong desire to get to the hoop.
“We definitely have a lot of plays that we practice, and they work well,” Wildbacher said. “We move the ball around alot and everyone is in motion. It’s a team that works together, and we have success that way. It’s not me scoring, it’s the team working together.”
The key to the Pumas on offense is movement, and though it is hard work, Sarah Martinez said it’s worth it. So far, it has paid off as Peak to Peak, ranked 10th in the latest 3A Associated Press media poll, improved to 7-2.
“That’s what we’ve built ourselves on is hard work and hustle and basically just making sure our teammates shine through,” said Martinez, who also made seven field goals for 14 points. “Our practices get more game-like as we go on, and that helps us out, too.”
“We really try and have a high-intensity game that’s fast, and we have patience when we need to,” Rathbun said. “But yeah, a lot of movement and a lot of backdoor stuff. They have good basketball sense, and that’s what you need to play the kind of freelance style basketball we play.”
Wednesday’s game was full of energy, and Peak to Peak made it lopsided early on. The host team used the 3-pointer and stingy defense to gain a 14-0 advantage early as Wildbacher, Katharine Kia and Bri Wetmore all connected from outside. Peak to Peak hit 4 of 8 attempts from 3-point range in the quarter.
The Wildcats cut the lead to 22-12 at one point in the second frame, but a basket from Martinez off a Kia assist and two free throws from Casey McClure gave the Pumas a 26-12 halftime lead.
Senior Emma Selner did all she could to keep St. Mary’s Academy in the contest, finishing with 19 points, but the Wildcats were held back by 10 first half turnovers and 15 miscues overall.
Kia added 12 points and eight rebounds for Peak to Peak, while Kyla Hilty also had nine rebounds and a blocked shot.
Martinez said she hopes the somewhat rare blowout win over the Wildcats represents good things to come for the Pumas, who will also get 6-foot post player Annette Warner back in the lineup this week.
“It was a good start for us, and we’re getting our momentum up and keeping it up. We want to keep this going,” Martinez said.
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Peak to Peak 56, St. Mary’s Academy 41
At Peak to Peak HS
ST. MARY’S ACADEMY (3-6, 0-2)
Carroll 1 0-02, Leo 1 0-0 3, Tobler 1 0-0 3, Bredehoeft 0 0-2 0, Gentry 1 3-5 6, Selner 4 10-15 19, Flynn 4 0-0 8. Totals 12 13-22 41.
PEAK TO PEAK (7-2, 1-0)
Casey McClure 0 2-2 2, Bri Wetmore 1 1-2 4, Erica Howard 1 0-0 2, Katharine Kia 3 4-8 12, Kyla Hilty 0 0-1 0, Michaela Wildmacher 7 7-8 22, Sarah Martinez 7 0-1 14. Totals 19 14-22 56.
Score by quarters:
St. Mary’s Academy 4 8 12 17 — 41
Peak to Peak 16 10 13 17 — 56
3-point field goals — St. Marys Academy (4): Leo, Tobler, Gentry, Selner; Peak to Peak (4): Wetmore, Kia 2, Wildbacher. Technical fouls — Peak to Peak bench.