The Durango High School girls basketball team must be sick of seeing the 3-point swish.
For the second consecutive night, the Demons battled against a hot-handed 3-point shooter, and for the second consecutive night, they came out on bottom.
This time it was Montrose’s Kala Keltz who did the damage, scoring a game-high 16 points, 12 of them from beyond the arc, in the Indians’ 49-45 nail-biter victory over their Southwestern League rivals.
“She did that to Cortez (Friday) night,” DHS head coach Nancy Smith said.
So the Demons saw Keltz coming, but when she started hitting them from downtown, there just wasn’t much to be done.
Instead, Smith said, the Demons concentrated on playing their own game, and they did it well.
Durango’s Abby Surmeier said the girls came into Saturday’s game with three goals:
20 turnovers or less.
Score off the tipoff.
They got two of the three, she said, even if they didn’t get the win; the Demons turned the ball over exactly 20 times, pulled down 18 rebounds and went up 2-0 to start the game right off the tip.
“I was so pleased with them (Saturday),” Smith said.
The two teams battled to a 12-12 stalemate at the end of the first quarter before the Indians took their second lead at 16-14 early in the second.
Emily McCue, who scored a team-second 10 points, hit her first 3 to launch Durango into a 10-point run, which would give the Demons an eight-point, 24-16 lead – the largest either team would secure.
Raquel Delgado scored four of her team-leading and career-high 14 points during that run as she attacked the Montrose zone – something Smith said she’s been telling the girls to try for weeks.
“She told me to attack. ... The lanes were open for me to attack, so I just took it,” said Delgado, daughter of Mark and Winston Delgado.
Instead of sitting back and making passes around the perimeter, the girls pushed into the paint and either went to the glass or dished back to the outside once the defense had committed. That was a big step forward Smith said, and the girls played well as a unit.
“We were together,” said Surmeier, whose team has endured quite a bit this season, including a change in head coaches. “Our togetherness is just unimpeachable.”
Nevertheless, the Indians closed the gap to five to finish the half and stayed within striking distance until Keltz drained one of her 3s to give Montrose their first lead in 13 minutes – 37-35 with one minute to go in the third quarter.
The Demons retook control at 41-38 with 5:20 left in the game, then pushed it to 43-38 with less than five to go, all off free throws from McCue, Taylor Perry and Surmeier in the double-bonus. On the day, the Demons hit a remarkable 17 of 20 from the line.
But Keltz hit another 3 with about three minutes to go to retake the lead for the final time.
In their own double-bonus, the Indians struggled from the line, missing four consecutive foul shots to give the Demons hope in the final minute.
McCue grabbed the rebound off Baylee Hawk’s fourth missed free throw and took it all the way to pull within two at 47-45 with 10 seconds left, but Montrose’s Tess Skoe broke the free-throw drought and knocked in her final two foul shots to seal Durango’s fate.
“It’s always a bummer to lose, but it shows how far we’ve come,” said Surmeier, daughter of Becky and John Surmeier.
Aside from the 3s, Durango also struggled to stop the Indians from getting second or even third chances off the boards. Surmeier said the Indians have made a name for themselves beneath the glass, and Saturday was no exception.
The Indians edged the Demons with 22 rebounds, six of them coming on the offensive side.
McCue led the Durango Demons (4-14, 2-5 SWL) with seven rebounds, while Perry added five.
The Demons’ press looked strong, forcing two backcourt violations and a multitude of steals. Delgado led with three, just ahead of McCue and Alyssa Montoya, who nabbed two apiece.
Nonetheless, Montrose edged Durango in turnovers, forcing 20 against the Demons’ 17, and Delgado said it was those turnovers that dug the Demons’ hole down the final stretch.
“We’ve gotten better; our press has gotten better,” Delgado said. “Our intensity, I hope that continues. We played our hearts out; it just didn’t go in our favor.”