LAFAYETTE — Peak to Peak’s girls basketball team won again despite facing a late deficit, and in the process stopped a couple of longstanding losing streaks.
Mary Reilly had a go-ahead, three-point play with 51.6 seconds remaining and came up with two crucial steals in the final minute as the Pumas edged Colorado Academy, 37-34, Thursday night to finish the first half of their season unblemished.
The junior guard wedged between defenders and swished a runner in traffic to give Peak to Peak (6-0, 6-0 3A Metro League) its first lead in the fourth quarter. She followed it up with a pair of steals, yet Alex May still had a chance to give Colorado Academy (4-2, 3-2) the lead in the final 10 seconds, but missed.
Reilly extended the lead with a pair of free throws with 1.6 seconds to go. Olivia Harris’ desperation heave from near half-court rimmed out.
“Two seasons ago, we talked about how we need to change to a hard working culture, a winning culture, but we knew wins weren’t going to come right away,” Peak to Peak coach Joe Howard said. “This season, we’ve hit our stride. We have girls that have been on this varsity squad since they were sophomores and freshmen that are now upperclassmen that are carrying us with that culture that we built up. They’ve developed a grit over that time.”
The Pumas have faced a fourth-quarter deficit in their last four games and have stormed back in each. Three of the four finished within five points or less. The other was a 47-40 overtime win over Prospect Ridge Academy last week.
In the latest, Howard’s team had built a 29-22 lead midway through the third after a quick 3 from Rory West followed by a pair of free throws from Reilly. But Colorado Academy answered with a 10-0 run that lasted until Daneca Nelsen’s 3 tied things at 32-32 with 3:30 remaining.
The Mustangs re-took the lead after a loose ball foul sent Ella Freimuth to the line, where she hit both to make it 34-32. Reilly snatched it back. She darted to the right edge of the hoop, lifted up and hit even as her momentum and contact forced her toward the baseline.
“Coach told us we needed something to kickstart us,” said Reilly, who led the Pumas with 12 points. “I was really hoping they’d call the foul and I was very happy when I made it.”
Peak to Peak had finished with a losing record every season since 2013-14 but now can finish the regular season no worse than .500 with just six games remaining.
The victory snapped a six-game losing streak to Colorado Academy, which dated back to 2014. West added 11 points in it, while Mattie Stevens had seven.
On Tuesday, it’d broken a nine-game losing streak to Faith Christian.
“Against Faith Christian, we were down eight going into the fourth quarter and in the huddle they said, ‘We’re not losing this game. We’re going to find a way to fight back in,’” Howard said. “It’s something we would have said last year but not necessarily believed. This year, they really believe that.”
The six straight wins to open the season is the Pumas’ best start since the 2010-11 when it won its first nine games and eventually reached the regional final.
Peak to Peak came into the week ranked outside of the top 15 in the CHSAANow.com 3A coaches poll but has since upended other bubble teams in Faith Christian and Colorado Academy. It hosts No. 4 Eaton Saturday.