THORNTON — The Legacy girls basketball team had a lot of things going against them on Wednesday night in their first game back from the holiday break at Horizon.
Perhaps the most obvious was that the Hawks are considered a state title contender, and Horizon has already shown in its preseason results that they will be a force beyond just competing for a league championship.
The Hawks were playing their first home game and were oozing confidence after finishing as runners-up in their division of the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix prior to Christmas. They check off every box on the list of tangibles, and the Lightning found it out firsthand in a 69-34 non-league setback that put LHS at 5-4 for the year.
The Hawks’ Sam Deem, a junior, completely controlled the first half with 19 of her game-most 21 points coming in the first two periods of play, and Horizon forced Legacy away from the paint steadily as they built a big lead early on.
On a night when shots weren’t falling — Legacy hit just 11 of 43 attempts — the recipe wasn’t what the girls were hoping in the long-standing rivalry game.
“We wanted to play Legacy basketball, try and slow things down and think of all our options. But we did start deciding early to shoot from outside rather than try and drive,” junior Isa Valenzuela said after she scored 12 points and was the only Lightning player to connect from the perimeter. “Their size was something we’re just not used to.”
“They’re a top-5 team in the state and we knew coming in it was going to be a tough game for us. They hit some 3-pointers early, and it just seemed no matter what defense we went to they were able to find a way through it,” said Legacy head coach Craig Van Patten. “We played a little bit scared after a couple blocks inside, and we ended up being jump shooters.”
Horizon was ranked seventh in the CHSAANow.com poll prior to the holiday break and continue to open eyes statewide as they have improved to 8-1 overall. Deem and slashing senior guard Izzy Allen combine with junior Aly Jimenez to provide a lot of offense, but the Hawks also have Arielle Wisne patrolling the paint.
It was Wisne who influenced a lot of the early part of the game with her rebounding and blocking capabilities, as Legacy tried to establish some inside work behind Halle Mackiewicz. Mackiewicz still managed to score four of her 15 points in the first quarter, but it was tough sledding trying to get layups or short jumpers to go for everyone on Van Patten’s bench.
Early 3-pointers from Allen, Caleese Ramirez, and Jimenez established a 18-4 advantage through 5 minutes of play, and Legacy just could not creep back in the game thanks also in part to 26 turnovers.
A 13-3 run for HHS in the second quarter established a chance for the hosts to use their bench, but Jimenez and Deem were responsible for all 23 of Horizon’s points in the second frame.
Jimenez finished with 18 points, right at her season average.
“Turnovers have killed us all year, and we talk and talk about it,” Van Patten said. “Horizon was pretty long, and it just seemed we panicked a bit.”
Legacy will get a chance to play Horizon again January 26, this time at LHS. Between now and then, the Lightning will get a chance to build on the team chemistry established as practices became official. The Lightning have played most of their games without Mackiewicz, who is a member of the U.S. Soccer Under-17 National Team as a goalie and was in training the first couple weeks of December.
“With her, we just feel complete and are able to do what we do a lot better,” Valenzuela said.
Horizon 69, Legacy 34
At Horizon HS
DePetrillo 1 0-0 2, Zamora 0 2-4 2, Liversedge 0 0-0 0, Ahadi 0 0-0 0, Valenzuela 4 0-0 12, Mackiewicz 5 5-8 17, Anya Carlson 1 1-4 3. Totals 11 8-16 34.
Oliver 1 0-0 2, Castillo 0 0-0 0, Ramirez 3 0-2 8, Jimenez 7 3-4 20, Delgado 1 2-4 5, Waufle 1 0-0 2, Deem 8 5-6 21, Allen 2 1-2 5, Wisne 1 0-0 2. Carlson 1 1-2 3. Totals 25 12-20 69.
Score by quarters:
3-point field goals — Legacy (4): Valenzuela 4; Horizon (7): Jimenez 3, Ramirez 2, Delgado, Allen. Technical fouls — Legacy coach, Horizon bench.