BOULDER — The 5280 League is mile-high competitive at the top, with five teams looking at the final month of regular season basketball with an eager eye.
The Shining Mountain girls, fresh off a long hiatus, showed on Saturday afternoon they could compete with the best, even holding a late lead in the third quarter against front-runner Rocky Mountain Lutheran.
But with little experience late in tight games so far for this Lions team in particular, Shining Mountain could not hold off the charge of a much bigger, and sometimes quicker, Eagles team.
The visiting Eagles dominated the end of the third quarter, and that spilled over into the fourth frame on their way to a 54-44 victory, dropping SMHS to 7-5 overall and 3-2 in league play.
“It was a little bit of a different experience for our girls right now. Rocky Mountain Lutheran is always a tough matchup for us and we seem to play them pretty close,” said Shining Mountain coach Mike Hawkes. “We had a couple opportunities to get a double-digit lead and we just couldn’t close the deal.
“These league games between the four of us are crucial, so I talked to them about keeping their heads up and building on this.”
The Lions are still trying to keep up with RML, Gilpin County and Belleview Christian in the league, and Jim Elliott is right there in the mix, too. With Saturday’s setback, Shining Mountain dropped to 1-2 against those teams with a game against Gilpin still upcoming.
Saturday was full of missed opportunities. The Lions struggled at the free throw line (4 for 15) and also missed some second chances after working for offensive rebounds.
Those two things quickly added up late in a winnable game, Hawkes said.
“We shot like 30 percent from the free throw line, and they shot like 71 percent,” Hawkes said. “All across the board, outside of that, it really was a wash.
“There are some positives, and with a few small corrections I think we can move on and beat better teams.”
“Never assume that since you are ahead by a certain amount of points that you are okay,” added Hannah Weinstein, who made six field goals for 14 points. “You have to keep battling.”
Shining Mountain led 26-25 at the half, and it used the energy gained from a strong opening pair of quarters to build a 35-27 lead, capped by a baseline jumper from Sophie Schram at the 2 minute, 50 second mark of the third.
Jacqueline Dalbotten, who finished with 19, put the Eagles (12-2, 5-0) right back in it as they closed third third quarter on a 9-2 run.
One minute into the fourth, Brittney Zemlicka gave the lead back to the home team with a transition layup, and from then on the Lions could not sustain any sort of run.
Weinstein hit a 3-pointer at the 2:55 mark to get Shining Mountain back to a 47-43 deficit, but Rocky Mountain Lutheran finished the game on a 7-1 streak.
“This is the the most back-and-forth game we’ve had,” Weinstein said. “We missed free throws and layups. We’ve got to keep going hard and trying our best, and hopefully we’ll keep improving.”
Rocky Mountain Lutheran 54, Shining Mountain 44
At Shining Mountain H.S.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN LUTHERAN (12-2, 5-0)
Ja. Dalbotten 5 8-10 19, Zelmicka 4 1-1 10, A. Dalbotten 3 0-2 6, Glowicki 2 0-0 4, Dally 4 1-2 10, Je. Dallbotten 2 1-2 5. Totals 20 11-17 54.
SHINING MOUNTAIN (7-5, 3-2)
Sophie Schram 3 0-1 6, Hannah Weinstein 6 0-4 14, Paisley Sheehan 5 4-7 15, Hana Mason 4 0-3 9, Dorie Schram 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 4-15 44.
Score by quarters:
Rocky Mtn. Lutheran 14 11 11 18 — 54
Shining Mountain 13 13 11 7 — 44
3-point field goals — RML (3): Ja, Dalbotten, Zelmicka, Dally; Shining Mountain (4): Weinstein 2, Sheehan, Mason.