HIGHLANDS RANCH – The Highlands Ranch girls basketball team finished sparring and is ready to take on the contenders.
The Falcons, ranked No. 2 in Colorado’s Class 5A poll, polished off ThunderRidge, 74-36, Saturday night at the Highlands Ranch gym and will now play at top-ranked Regis Jesuit Wednesday night before hosting No. 5 Rock Canyon Saturday evening.
All three teams are 5-0 in the Continental League and this week will definitely have an impact on the eventual league champion.
Regis (16-1) tuned up for Wednesday’s No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown with a 75-35 romp Saturday night over Legend in a game that saw the Raiders hit 51 percent of their field goal attempts.
“It doesn’t get any easier in this league, that’s for sure,” said Highlands Ranch coach Caryn Jarocki. “The girls are totally excited.”
Highlands Ranch (14-3) took all the excitement out of Saturday’s game by jumping to a 15-2 lead after the first quarter and the Falcons never looked back in winning their eighth straight game.
ThunderRidge, which had won four consecutive league games after a 4-7 non-league campaign, fell to 4-1 in the league.
The Falcons turned the ball over 13 times in the first half but only once in the final two quarters and shot the ball well the entire game. Highlands Ranch hit 56.2 percent of its field goals attempts, including seven 3-pointers.
“The first half we had 13 turnovers but we thoroughly outrebounded them,” said Jarocki. “The second half we had only one turnover and they thoroughly outrebounded us. So we’re trying to put those two together, where we outrebound and have less turnovers.”
Madison Montgomery, the Falcons’ 6-foot senior who transferred from Regis, paced the Falcons with 20 points and admitted she is looking forward to Tuesday’s game against her former team.
Ciera Morgan had 14 points in the balanced Falcons’ offensive showing while Symone Starks finished with 12 points and Abrianna Lujan contributed 10 points.
ThunderRidge turned the ball over 20 times in the game and shot only 21.5 percent from the field.
The first 4:30 of the game told the story for the Grizzlies.
ThunderRidge missed its first seven shots and turned the ball over once on their first eight possessions of the game.
“We scored two points in the first quarter,” said ThunderRidge coach Bill Bradley. “We didn’t shoot well but they shot 70 percent from 3-point range. That’s pretty good. When they shoot it that well and we shoot that poorly, it doesn’t matter about the rest of it.
“We actually shot it 51 times and they shot it 48 times. They shot 16 free throws, we shot 15 free throws.”
Brianna Throop, a 5-7 senior guard, provided half of ThunderRidge’s offensive output as she scored a team-high 18 points.