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Girls basketball: Peak to Peak downs Dawson with defensive dominance

Peak to Peak's Charley Miller goes ...
Alissa Noe/
Peak to Peak’s Charley Miller goes up for a midrange jumper during the second quarter of the Pumas’ game at Dawson.

LAFAYETTE — The shots don’t always fall in girls basketball. When they don’t, it’s imperative that defense become the crux of any team’s game.

That’s what Peak to Peak’s game at Dawson boiled down to on Friday night as the Pumas won with a 33-23 final. The Mustangs relied on their sneaky steals as the Pumas focused on strong pressure inside the arc to force Dawson to go outside more.

“I’m just really happy to have our defense step up and show that we can bring the defensive intensity and we can get stops when it matters,” Peak to Peak head coach Joe Howard said. “That’s something that we’re really committed to and I was happy with the girls’ intensity today.”

Freshman phenom Alex Eschmeyer continued her dominance in the paint despite her team’s shooting woes as she put up 15 points. She’s averaging 17 points through her first three games of high school. It certainly helps that she skies over everyone else at 6-foot-3.

“It’s really easy to see my teammates up the floor on fast breaks and I can get a lot of assists,” Eschmeyer said. “Also, I can dominate inside.”

Junior Ella Stewart led the Mustangs with six points, all from behind the arc, as Annabelle Biggar, Julie Bozzay and Sydney Javes each added four more.

The Pumas began the game with a little bit of timidity in their shots as the Mustangs kept them at arm’s length through much of the first half. Midway through the second quarter, however, they found their spark and converted a three-point deficit into a seven-point lead.

Alissa Noe/
Peak to Peak’s Natalie Farhar blocks a shot from Dawson’s Annabelle Biggar during the first quarter of the Pumas’ matchup at Dawson on Friday night.

By halftime, Dawson closed the gap to just three points thanks to some good ol’ kleptomania as Peak to Peak still held a 17-14 advantage.

Dawson head coach Matt Johnston liked the shot selection and ball movement he saw from his ladies all night long. That played out more in the first half.

“Our base is our defense,” he said. “That’s how we’ve won the past two years and basically my whole career. That’s definitely our anchor and the girls know that, too. I’m not surprised about the early struggles this early in the season. They’re a really good team and they were a really good team last year.”

Eschmeyer lit it up even more in the opening minutes of the second half as she dropped seven points in a short period of time. The Pumas rode the wave she created all the way to a 10-point lead with their opening shot of the fourth quarter, which was a smooth 3-pointer from sophomore Charley Miller.

The Mustangs couldn’t recover.

The Pumas will return to action on Monday with a home matchup against KIPP Denver Collegiate as the Mustangs head to Lyons on Tuesday night.

“We’re all frustrated because we feel like we could have had it but I thought we played great for one of our first games of the season,” Stewart said. “We really just kept pushing and I think that once we work on our defense and our transitions more, then I think we can get it next time.”

Alissa Noe/
Dawson coach Matt Johnston instructs his team from the sidelines as junior Ella Stewart takes the ball down court.