LOUISVILLE — There aren’t many technical fouls in the high school basketball game — the worst of the chirping usually comes from the stands. Though when an occasional one arises, Monarch coach Mike Blakely knows he has a star to turn to.
Senior Natalie Guanella, who among a wide-reaching impressive performance in Wednesday night’s 67-47 win over Windsor, finished a career-best 14 of 14 from the free throw line.
“Last year I would not be our technical shooter,” Guanella said, looking over to her coach with a smile. “But this year, so far, so good.”
The reigning BoCoPreps.com player of the year took over against perennial girls’ basketball power in Class 5A No. 9 Windsor (4-5), which was just in the 4A title game a season ago.
Guanella finished with a game-high 25 points, returning to form after she had just six in her team’s loss to 6A No. 5 Regis Jesuit on Dec. 21.
Perhaps even better, she closed with 14 of her team’s 23 points in the fourth quarter to help the No. 2 Coyotes improve to 7-1 and 3-0 at home.
“The reason I was getting those free throws was because I was attacking the rim and they just couldn’t keep up and were fouling me,” Guanella said. “I was trying to be that spark to get us going.”
It seemed to grow as the game went on.
Continuing to drive to the rim late, Guanella worked through contact and scored six straight to make it 56-39 with 2:25 remaining.
She hit her 14th consecutive free throw of the night with 56 seconds left, improving to 37 of 43 (86%) from the line this winter.
“If there was a ‘T’ last season, I would say, ‘Caroline (Walley), go shoot that’,” Blakely said. “Now it’s Natalie. And she’s always wanted to be that kid. And that’s what I want from that kid, is for her to say ‘I want the ball. I’ve earned it and now I’m the best free throw shooter on the team. Put me on the line’.”
The Coyotes’ first game in 14 days looked a bit rough early as they were on the wrong side of a strong start from Windsor.
Down five in the first few minutes, a three-point play from Walley spurred a big run late in the frame as Monarch settled in, grabbed the lead and eventually pulled away.
Five different players scored as part of an 11-0 run that stretched into the first minute of the second. Guanella then scored four straight and Walley followed with successive makes of her own to help put the Coyotes up 27-19 at halftime.
The lead trickled as low as three early in the third before Hayley Luther hit back-to-back 3s and Guanella had five straight to get the lead back to double figures.
Guanella then nearly outscored Windsor by herself in the fourth, 15-14.
“We had like a week off of even practice and I know that was killing all of us,” Walley said. “But we came back and had a great week of practicing. We all just really wanted to get after it because we felt like we took a step back with Regis. We had to re-prove ourselves.”
Monarch hosts 6A No. 13 Ralston Valley Friday.