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Dove Creek girls race past Mancos

Bulldogs utilize high pressure attack to secure victory

Relying on a talented roster stocked with speedy guards and versatile post players, the Dove Creek High School girls basketball team dominated Mancos High School from start to finish en route to a 59-18 road victory on Dec. 10.

Among the keys to the Bulldogs’ victory was the team’s high-pressure defense, which forced numerous turnovers and made it nearly impossible for Mancos to find any kind of offensive rhythm.

Benefiting from many of the Jaybirds’ turnovers was Dove Creek junior Grace Hatfield, whose speed in transition and willingness to attack the rim allowed her to score a game-high 15 points for her team.

“A lot of what we’re going to do all year is pressure,” Bulldogs’ head coach Julie Kibel said. “We’re pretty lucky because we’re deep this year. What we want to do is keep moving the ball as much as we can.”

After struggling to score throughout the opening minutes of the contest, Dove Creek began to find its rhythm midway through the first quarter and managed to build an 11-5 lead thanks to baskets from Cassie Gatlin, Rylee Hickman, Taylor Hickman, Kobie Beanland and Hatfield.

The Lady Bulldogs extended their lead to 21-5 after a 10-0 run to begin the second quarter and carried a 29-9 lead into halftime thanks in large part to 10 second-quarter points by Hatfield and four second-quarter points by Gatlin, who scored 12 total points in the game.

A lone bright spot for the Jays during the second quarter was the play of sophomore Rhiley Montoya, who consistently attacked the basket and scored two of her team-high 9 points in the frame and came up with several steals.

Continuing to apply pressure throughout the third quarter, Dove Creek built a 41-13 lead with two minutes to go in the frame and benefited from what was likely the game’s finest play when Gatlin drove along the baseline and converted a nifty reverse layup to put her team ahead 44-11.

“We have a lot of good post players underneath and everyone can shoot it from the outside too,” said Gatlin, who consistently showcased her versatility throughout the game. “That ability to play inside and outside is definitely a strength for our team this year.”

Dove Creek continued to push the pace throughout the fourth quarter with strong play by several bench players, including junior guard Angel Toledo, who attacked the paint and came through with several highlight-reel assists.

“That’s just part of the game, passing the ball,” Toledo said. “We’ve spent a lot of time working together as a team and we’re not just about one person being a star player every single game.”

Although Mancos struggled to score throughout much of the contest, the Jays continued to play hard from start to finish and did receive stellar defensive efforts from several players, including Emmalee Asnicar, who consistently battled for loose balls in the paint.

Missing from the Mancos lineup was star senior Isis Jaime, who fell one practice short of the number of practices that the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) requires before players can play. Star junior Maddie Hale also missed the contest due to an injury.

With its record now at 0-4 on the season, Mancos will return to its practice court in anticipation of a home matchup against Durango High School on Dec. 16.

Dove Creek, which is now 3-1 on the season, will play its next contest on the road against Monticello on Dec. 13.

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