FORT COLLINS — Even on senior night for the Heritage Christian girls basketball team, Lyons had no problem matching the emotion out on the court in their Mile High League road contest on Tuesday night.
The output, however, was a different story. Having been on a bit of a roll of late, the Lions’ defensive effort was simply not mirrored by the offense for three of the four quarters in the game, and the Eagles were able to pull away late for a 36-26 win.
The Eagles had 22 turnovers to just 12 for Lyons, but the visitors rarely took advantage of the miscues — leaving a lot of points off the scoreboard with missed transition layups that could have kept them from playing behind from as early as the first quarter.
“We knew it was going to be tough coming into their place on senior night, and we needed to play four good quarters. Really we played about one good quarter,” said Lyons head coach Marcus Richardson, whose team dropped to 12-7 overall with a big layoff from action forthcoming. “They make you work hard. The girls’ effort was there, we just couldn’t generate enough offense to come out with a win.
“On a night like this against a team like that, you have to make those (steals and turnovers) count.”
The Lions had won five straight, including some real challenging games against Dayspring Christian and Longmont Christian (both victories by five points).
Tuesday, they never panicked on defense but could not get over the hump of a nine-point halftime deficit. Senior Kennedy Hughes played well in her final home game for the Eagles, scoring 14 points and being the constant threat for her team that Lyons struggled to discover.
Heritage Christian denied leading scorer Madison Johnson with some double teams, and senior Ixchel Leeuwenburgh got into foul trouble early to keep her on the bench most of the first half.
Still, it was Leeuwenburgh that got Lyons rolling in the third quarter, along with a period-opening jump shot from Sarah Hall. Lyons cut the score to 22-20 with 3:41 left in the third and it was just 25-20 heading to the fourth frame.
Kylee Udovich’s 3-pointer with 5:37 to go made it 27-23, but from there LHS went on a scoring drought of 4:15 — while Heritage Christian (14-4, 8-2) got a few looks inside and went on a small-but-necessary 9-0 run to seal the outcome.
“We’re going to be able to take a lot of things from this defensively, because we didn’t let them score as many points as they normally do,” said senior Adele Walker.
The Lions know they’ll be playing again in districts, and they are all but assured a spot in the 32-team 2A bracket that following the completion of the District 7 tournament. As for this one, there were plenty of hard lessons learned.
“It was good to have this experience going into our postseason and just good to play a good team and keep our spirits up,” Walker said. “We are going to come back stronger. We make up for a lot of things defensively, but in postseason we’re going to have to make shots.”
“We know we’re a part of that 32, but we have a long layover until our next game,” Richardson added. “We’ll have some time to work on things, maybe get in a scrimmage, and get ready to face two more tough teams.”
Heritage Christian 36, Lyons 26
At Heritage Christian Academy
LYONS (12-7, 7-4)
Udovich 1 2-4 5, Powell 0 0-0 0, Kincaid 0 0-0 0, Enny 1 2-2 4, Johnson 2 0-0 4, Walker 1 0-2 2, Herman 1 0-0 2, Leeuwenburgh 2 1-3 5, Hall 2 0-0 4. Totals 10 5-11 26.
HERITAGE CHRISTIAN (14-4, 8-2)
Lacey 0 0-3 0, Collins 4 0-0 12, Che 1 2-2 4, Hughes 4 6-8 14, Johnson 2 2-4 6. Totals 11 10-17 36.
Score by quarters:
3-point field goals — Lyons (1): Udovich; Heritage Christian (4): Collins 4. Fouled out — Leeuwenburgh, Udovich.