It’s back to the brain for the DHS girls

Steve Lewis/Durango Herald file photo

Tymbree Hawkins and the Durango Demons have placed a strong emphasis on passing the basketball, and while they passed on a couple of victories against Grand Junction and Montrose last time around, they’ll host the Southwestern League rivals this weekend this time around.

By Jim Sojourner Herald staff writer

It’s all in the head.

After taking a sweep to Grand Junction and Montrose on the road last month, the Durango High School girls basketball team is getting its head screwed on straight before this weekend’s season-ending Southwestern League rematches.

No 65-40 loss to Grand Junction Tigers.

No 62-20 loss to the Montrose Indians.

These Demons are ready this time, guard Jessi Sigillito said.

“I think our whole mentality has changed,” she said at Wednesday’s practice. “We know going into these games they’re going to be hard; they’re going to be a battle.”

With an 11-6 overall record and a 4-4 mark in the SWL, the Class 4A Demons currently are riding the middle of the league standings, trailing Class 4A Montrose by two games and Class 5A Grand Junction by three. Durango needs wins against both to keep itself in the Class 4A playoff run and give it hope for a league title.

Nona Patcheck doesn’t think that will be much of a problem.

“We have the element of surprise, now, because they don’t think we can do it,” Patcheck said. “And we can do it. Period.”

Back to the brain.

Walking into Grand Junction, then Montrose in January, the Demons weren’t prepared for the intensity and speed their league opponents brought to the court.

Particularly against Montrose, the Demons dug themselves a big hole early.

“It was the first time we’ve seen something like that,” Sigillito said. “Such big crowds, we hadn’t really been in that situation.”

Now, those big crowds will be wearing Durango red, and it won’t be the Demons’ first trip around the SWL block.

“You’re not afraid,” DHS head coach Nancy Smith said. “The unknown is what people are afraid of most.”

So there shouldn’t be shock.

“Our goal for every game is to win the first three minutes of every game,” Patcheck said.

Smith said the Demons have gotten smarter over the last few weeks, learning to consistently communicate, trust each other on defense and better handle the ball.

“We’ve been working on the mental part of our game a lot,” Patcheck said.

If the Demons can stick to the tough defense that’s given them wins, Smith said, and especially limit their turnovers, they can flip both results.

“If in doubt, don’t,” she said of how to prevent costly turnovers.

Sigillito will be one of the Demons in charge of turning passes into assists in her first full game back from a two-week absence because of a knee injury.

She’ll get her chances first against Montrose at 6 p.m. today, then Grand Junction at noon Saturday.

Although doctors initially thought the guard had a partial anterior cruciate ligament tear, Sigillito said the injury appeared to have been a deep bruise instead.

“I’m so thrilled,” Smith said. “I just wanted to have a party for her. It’s like your dream has been stripped away, and then it’s been handed back.”

A better present might be a couple of wins; that’s a dream come true.

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