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Girls basketball: Hot start pushes Boulder past Skyline for first win

Junior Abbie Gillach scores game-high 21 points in victory at Falcon Challenge

  • Brad Cochi/BoCoPreps.com

    Skyline's Aly McKrola, right, takes a shot over Boulder's Lexi Reis during their game at Skyline on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019.

  • Brad Cochi/BoCoPreps.com

    Boulder's Ella Bartsch, right, attempts a shot over Skyline's Charlee Neb during their game at Skyline on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019 in Longmont.

  • Brad Cochi/BoCoPreps.com

    Ella Bartsch of Boulder takes a shot while Skyline's Natalie Weathers closes in during their game on Thursdday, Dec. 5, 2019 in Longmont.

  • Brad Cochi/BoCoPreps.com

    Skyline's Ashayla Powers, right, takes a 3-point shot against Boulder on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019.

  • Brad Cochi/BoCoPreps.com

    Boulder's Abbie Gillach looks for her next move as the Panthers played Skyline on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019 at Skyline High School.

  • Brad Cochi/BoCoPreps.com

    Skyline's Aly McKrola, center, looks to make a play while being defended by Ella Bartsch of Boulder on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019.

  • Brad Cochi/BoCoPreps.com

    Skyline's Natalie Weathers and Boulder's Lexi Reis eye the basketball in the air as the teams played at Skyline on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019.

  • Daily Camera file photo

    Skyline's Ashayla Powers, left, drives against the Boulder defense during their game at Skyline on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019.

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LONGMONT – In the second round of the Falcon Challenge on Thursday night, both the Boulder and host Skyline girls basketball teams played in search of that all-important first win of the season.

Courtesy of a hot start and a balanced attack, it was the Boulder Panthers who got into the win column first with a 48-38 victory at Skyline High School. To hear senior Emma Bagley tell it, the Panthers’ determination to taste victory on Thursday night stemmed from a desire to turn things around after several rough winters.

“We had a tough loss Tuesday and I think we’re just ready to start winning,” Bagley said. “The three of us seniors, we really want to have a good season after losing seasons the past three years. We’re ready to just kick it into gear and we have a good group of girls this year that’s ready to put in the work.”

The Panthers (1-2) jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the opening minutes of Thursday night’s game. The Skyline Falcons (0-2) regained their footing somewhat and put together a quick run just before halftime to enter the break trailing by four, 23-19.

In the second half, the Panthers caught fire again midway through the third quarter and led 39-24 to start the fourth. Skyline cut the lead to nine with 1 minute, 23 seconds remaining in the game, and two more times thereafter, but wouldn’t get any closer.

“I think starting strong is what pushed us through the game,” Bagley said. “We got off to a good start and got the momentum, and that gave us to confidence so we were all ready to shoot. That’s happened to us all the time in the past couple years, too. Those first couple minutes set the tone of the game and it’s really hard to change that when you fall behind.”

Ten of the Panthers players who suited up on Thursday scored at least one point. Bagley had five, sophomore Ella Bartsch scored six and junior point guard Abbie Gillach, who led the Panthers with 11.1 points a night last season, poured in a game-high 21 points.

“I know the girls are super excited about the first win and I’m super excited to see them show up in the first quarter the way I know they can,” Boulder head coach Emily Van Patten said. “Yesterday was actually the first practice I had with all my girls there so that definitely helped. We shot 40 percent in the loss against Chatfield but Thompson Valley wasn’t our strongest game so it was good to get into our groove tonight.”

Boulder will look to keep it going when the Panthers play Ponderosa on Saturday night in their final Falcon Challenge game.

Despite opening the season with a strong core of returning players, Skyline has been held to an average of 40 points in its first two games. Senior Aly McKrola led the Falcons with 15 points and fellow senior Ashayla Powers scored 12, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with the Panthers.

“We were just out of sorts and I don’t know what it was,” Falcons head coach Kirk Blackard said. “We weren’t playing together, our fundamentals were bad and we couldn’t make layups. That’s probably the worst game I’ve seen them play in two years and I don’t know why because we work hard in practice and everything. It just didn’t come together. We’re giving them the day off tomorrow and we’ll come back together and start practice again on Saturday.”

Skyline will wrap up its host tournament against Vista PEAK on Saturday.