LOUISVILLE — Peyton Carter and Sally Sroge weren’t the likeliest candidates to put the scoring load in their hands Tuesday night.
Heck, they might not have been in the top five when looking down the Monarch girls basketball roster.
But the tandem — Carter a sophomore reserve and Sroge a starter more inclined to make hustle-type plays than score — put together a rousing fourth quarter in Monarch’s hold-your-breath 51-47 win against Fossil Ridge in the Class 5A Sweet 16.
The pair scored 15 of the Coyotes’ 19 points in the fourth, with Carter scoring nine straight down the stretch. Included were the go-ahead foul shots with 32 seconds left.
“This is probably the most exciting game I’ve been in, because I’ve never felt like this before,” Carter said. “It was intense.”
After Carter’s free throws put Monarch up 49-47, Fossil Ridge standout Brooke Pemberton (16 points, eight rebounds) went to the line with 4.7 seconds to play. After missing the first, the senior intentionally missed the second.
But Madison Payne tracked down the rebound and shoveled to Raegen Rohn, who converted two more foul shots in the final second to seal it for the Coyotes (23-2). Monarch will take on another Front Range League rival in Fairview in the quarterfinals at the Denver Coliseum (Friday, time TBA).
“Our seniors didn’t want to lose, particularly in our gym,” Monarch coach Gail Hook said. “We did a lot to earn that number one seed.”
Before Carter’s burst, Sroge scored six of the Monarch’s first eight in the fourth. With the Sacramento State-bound Rohn closely checked by the SaberCats — she still managed 13 points and three 3-pointers — the Coyotes understood some auxiliary sources needed to make a presence.
It was plenty apparent Sroge wasn’t ready to move on to Hollins College quite yet.
“I think it does mean a little bit more doing it this way,” Sroge said. “We just had the grit, that’s what coach said, and keeping our poise just helped us get there.”
With things tied 40-40 midway through the fourth, Carter missed the front end of a 1-and-1. She was nothing but clutch from there. She made 6 of 6 free throws in the pressure cooker and, in between, nailed a go-ahead 3-pointer moments after Sami Steffeck had done the same for Fossil Ridge (18-7).
The contest was either tied, or the Coyotes were down by one, each time she stepped the line for her final six attempts.
“I just try not to think,” Carter said. “That sounds weird, but I just try to focus on looking at the back of the rim. I can’t worry about the student section and I can’t worry about the score.
“My first free throw that I missed, I looked at the score and it was 40-40, so I thought ‘Oh crap, this is a big free throw.’ After I was just like, shoot it, look at the back of the rim, don’t think about anything.”
Fossil Ridge had fallen to Monarch 59-42 during the regular season, but the SaberCats were right in the thick of this one.
“Just limiting our turnovers was the big thing,” Fossil Ridge coach Chad Salz said. “We watched a lot of film on how we played them last time, and we were a little more prepared for their half-court trap.”
It’s not likely the SaberCats had a plan in place to defend a reserve sophomore guard.
“Very proud of the way she came out there and played those minutes for us,” Hook said. “It says a lot when you have a sophomore in at the end of that kind of a game, and she just did all the right things for us.”
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Monarch 51, Fossil Ridge 47
At Monarch HS
FOSSIL RIDGE (18-7)
Sami Steffeck 4 0-0 11, Natalie Williams 1 0-0 3, Kellee Willer 4 1-2 11, Britt Mishak 1 2-4 4, Brooke Pemberton 4 8-12 16, RJ Kuhn 0 0-0 0, Sophie Smith 0 0-0 0, Regan Wess 0 2-2 2. Totals 14 13-20 47.
Sally Sroge 3 4-4 10, Raegen Rohn 4 2-2 13, Olivia Burgener 2 0-0 4, Kelly O’Flannigan 2 0-1 4, Jasmine Jeffcoat 1 0-0 2, Charlotte Crist 0 0-0 0, Peyton Carter 2 6-7 12, Madison Payne 0 3-4 3, Lauren Paswaters 0 0-1 0, Macy Scott 1 1-2 3. Totals 15 16-21 51.
Score by quarters:
Fossil Ridge 10 7 14 16 — 47
Monarch 12 12 8 19 — 51
3-point field goals — Fossil Ridge (6): Steffeck 3, Willer 2, Williams; Monarch (5): Rohn 3, Carter 2. Total fouls — Fossil Ridge 21, Monarch 21. Fouled out — Williams, Jeffcoat.