THORNTON — Winning conference games is never easy.
Winning conference games on the road is that much harder.
And it didn’t take Monarch coach Gail Hook long to figure out the most critical part of her schedule from mid-January to early February was going to be huge. Her Coyotes were on the road for five of their seven games, with a home game against Broomfield sandwiched in between.
The culmination of that long, strange trip around the Front Range League finally ended on Friday night at Horizon. The Coyotes took it to the short-handed Hawks 62-50 to corral their 17th win of the season against just two losses.
“We’ve had a lot of road games and we’ve managed to pull them out, they haven’t been pretty, but we’ve managed to pull them out,” said Hook, whose team is also 7-1 in the league. “I credit that from the production that we are getting from our bench.”
Those fresh legs off the pine were in high demand on Friday night against a Hawks team that is learning to live without their powerful post Alyssa Rader, who has been forced to watch from the bench in a sling.
Monarch let Horizon hang around for much of the first half and didn’t start to gain any sort of comfortable separation until the third quarter. With Horizon struggling to buy a basket — just 2 for 10 in the quarter — Monarch went on a 12-3 run out of the locker rooms that saw the lead stretch from six at the break to 34-19.
“We were a little concerned because they have already had four games without (Rader), so it wasn’t like we were going in and playing the first game against them with her out,” Hook said. “We know that they have had time together to gel and the players left are picking up the damage that she has done.”
That being said, Monarch’s length gave the Hawks fits and made it difficult for them to find any open looks from the perimeter and even more challenging when they attempted to go inside the paint.
Horizon had just 24 points through three quarters, and even with a hot shooting fourth quarter that produced 26 points, couldn’t dig out of the hole the Coyotes had put them in.
Hook was continually subbing and keeping fresh legs on the court and it showed in the balanced scoring attack. Senior Sally Sroge led the Coyotes with 12 points and both Raegen Rohn and Kelly O’Flannigan each had 11 points. Jasmine Jeffcoat, who battled a little bit foul trouble chipped in with seven in limited minutes.
The aforementioned bench combined for 15 points between Charlotte Crist, Peyton Carter, Macy Scott and Olivia Burgener.
“I’m pleased with how our first group is hanging in there and doing the positive things and playing smart basketball by taking care of business and closing out quarters when we need to,” Hook said. “And we are fortunate to have that production from the bench, because it has helped us get to 17 wins.”
Horizon’s Kylie Jimenez scored 16 of her game high 20 in the fourth quarter. Lauren Bennett added 12 in the losing effort for the Hawks.
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Monarch 62, Horizon 50
MONARCH (17-2, 7-1)
Charlotte Crist 0 4-4 4, Peyton Carter 1 0-1 2, Madison Payne 1 4-4 6, Sally Sroge 4 4-5 12, Raegen Rohn 3 4-4 11, Macy Scott 2 0-0 4, Olivia Burgener 2 0-0 5, Kelly O’Flannigan 5 0-0 11, Jasmine Jeffcoat 2 3-4 7. Totals 20 19-22 62.
HORIZON (12-8, 3-6)
Kayla Chand 2 0-0 4,Kylie Jimenez 6 8-10 20, Emily Ramos 2 0-0 6, Jen McFadden 0 0-0 0, Linsi Calvo 1 0-0 3, Lauren Bennett 4 2-2 12, Savannah Arellano 2 0-0 5. Totals 17 10-12 50.
Score by quarters:
Monarch 13 9 19 21 — 62
Horizon 9 7 8 26 — 50
3-point field goals — Monarch (3): Rohn, Burgener, O’Flannigan; Horizon (6): Ramos 2, Bennett 2, Calvo, Arellano. Total fouls — Monarch 13; Horizon 21. Fouled out — Bennett.