Demons split in Pueblo

DHS girls finish tournament with two different results

One of these games was not so much like the other.

The Durango High School girls basketball team beat Greeley Central in a 36-33 “nail-biter” at the Lady Hornet Holiday Tournament on Saturday morning in Pueblo, then lost a non-nail-biter to Canon City 61-39 later Saturday.

“I’m really, really excited,” DHS head coach Nancy Smith said about her first full year as Durango’s head coach. “These girls are just a fabulous group of people. (The tournament) was a fabulous chance for us to come together as a team ... to try things that didn’t work and make some corrections; to make some adjustment and play against good pressure and to learn to be composed.”

A fabulous chance to get a couple of good victories, too.

After beating Harrison on Thursday and losing to Pueblo County on Friday, the Demons got a chance to put their guts on display Saturday.

“We knew we were fairly evenly matched,” Smith said about her team’s morning game against Greeley Central. “And the whole point was to try to get their guards rattled. Good, strong pressure defense on their guards.”

It worked well enough to give the Demons a single-digit lead for most of the game, but the Wildcats threatened to overtake Durango as the clock ran down.

Katie Wiegert put an end to that.

Wiegert finished a three-point play, then hit a couple of “clutch” free throws to give Durango “just enough breathing room so we didn’t have a heart attack,” Smith said.

“Katie was our player of the game,” she said.

“It was a test of our poise, and they handled it really well,” Smith said of the team.

Wiegert finished with eight points behind Molly Barnes’ 12 and Emily McCue’s nine.

Then, in the evening, the Demons ran up against “just a really strong team.”

“They made their baskets, and they made us pay on the press,” Smith said of Canon City.

The Tigers’ hard-to-handle press translated into a lot of Demon turnovers and gave their powerful offense plenty of scoring opportunities.

In particular, Smith said, Canon City had one very dangerous guard.

Durango’s solution: Dominique Ward.

“She pretty much shut her down,” Smith said.

“Dominique did a really good job defensively.”

Canon City’s counter-solution: everyone else.

By the fourth quarter, Durango trailed by about 20 points, Smith said, so instead of frantically scrambling in an attempt to close the sizeable gap, the Demons took the final frame “as a good setting at the end to practice what we do against a really good team.”

Durango slowed down, kept running its plays and tried to make good passes. And that trial run will come in handy down the road, Smith said.

Barnes again led the team with 13 points, followed by eight from Augusta Brockus.

McCue had 10 rebounds.

The Durango girls finish the weekend 2-2 heading into their home opener against Bayfield at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at Durango High School.

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