Girls basketball: Christiansen has resurgent Lyons thinking state

Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer
Lyons High School’s Taylor Christiansen poses for a portrait during practice on Wednesday.

LYONS — With seven games remaining in the 2015-16 season, the Lyons girls basketball team is already just one victory shy of doubling its win total from last year.

In fact, the Lyons’ 9-3 record already equals the program’s total number of wins from the last two seasons combined. Two more wins and the Lions will have amassed as many wins as the program has managed in the last three seasons.

At the crux of the Lions’ recent explosion of wins has been a maturing group with a hard-nosed attitude and a passion for stout full-court pressure. At the heart of that group is junior captain Taylor Christiansen.

“So far, it’s just been about how hard we’ve all been working,” Christiansen said. “We’re not always making shots on offense but we’ve been outworking teams, getting more rebounds and getting up in our press and getting those steals. It really all about how hard we’re willing to work.”

A shooting guard for the Lions, Christiansen is one of the eldest on a team with no seniors. This season an emerging group of sophomore post players has taken pressure off Christiansen and the other juniors, who experienced a 5-15 season last year while opposing teams could overplay the Lions’ backcourt.

Embodying her team’s defensive mentality, Christian’s 5.7 steals per game are tops on a team that averages 19.8 per contest. Her average is also third best in all of Colorado. Even her team-high 13.9 points per game, Christiansen says, comes mostly from her defense.

“We work really well in getting traps and playing great full-court pressure,” Christiansen said. “We really work hard to do things like get offensive rebounds and force turnovers to get easy point in transition.”

The way they are playing, the Lions look to be in good shape with district tournaments growing closer each day.

First-year head coach Jason Maguire, who coached the Lyons boys for 17 years before taking a hiatus four years ago, said Christiansen and the other Lions girls all maturing at the right time likely is the primary reason for the team’s success.

“I knew the tools were there when I took the job over,” Maguire said. “It was just a matter of getting them all to play on the same page. It makes my job easier when it goes that way. Taylor is a big part of that, too, because she affects the team with her leadership ability.

“She always guards the other team’s offensive player. She has games where she’ll only have one steal but she’ll hold the other team’s best girl under 10 points, and then she’ll have games like the other night (against Twin Peaks) when she had three points but had eight or nine assists.”

This Lions team may have no seniors but it also has no small expectations for itself, either.

“I personally think we can go to state,” Christiansen said. “The school hasn’t been to state since 1993, if I’m correct. If we keep playing like we have been, we could be the team to break that streak.”

Brad Cochi: or