Looking to finish its regular season with an unblemished 13-0 record, the Dove Creek High School girls’ basketball team dominated Dolores High School throughout what ended up being an easy 82-28 victory.
Leading the way for the Lady Bulldogs were senior Grace Hatfield, who scored 26 points, and senior Kobie Beanland, who netted 10. Eight other Dove Creek players also scored, including sophomore Kaylin Smith, who scored nine points, and sophomore Lexi Gray, who chipped in eight.
While the outstanding performance of Dove Creek’s second-stringers was a central storyline of the game, their head-turning play might not have been possible if not for a solid effort by the Lady Bulldogs’ starting five, who came out on fire and ended the first quarter 26-4 lead.
Hatfield drained two long 3-pointers and scored 10 first-quarter points. Beanland drained two 3-pointers and finished the quarter with 10.
Although Dove Creek’s onslaught put Dolores on its heels, the Lady Bears battled hard during the second quarter, thanks to seniors Sydney Smith and Samantha Castillo, who scored 10 points and six points, respectively.
Senior shooting guard Akira Edwards also sparked Dolores by attacking the rim and hitting two highlight reel layups while scoring 10 points in her final game.
Dove Creek’s size and rebounding prowess prevented any significant Dolores runs from occurring, however, as senior Laurel Hankins, freshman Kylie Gatlin and Gray collected numerous offensive boards and bothered Dolores shooters underneath.
“The team was really good at rebounding,” Hankins said. “It’s important to rebound because it helps us make baskets and pass out to the guards so that they can shoot (3-pointers). Free throws and breakaways were very important for us as well.”
Coming out of the halftime break with a 39-10 lead, Dove Creek continued to dominate throughout a third quarter that began with a pretty post move and finish by Hankins and with a nifty transition layup by Smith.
With their starters on the bench during the majority of fourth quarter, the Lady Bulldogs continued to pour it on as Smith drained a 3-pointer from the right wing on the opening possession of the final period to put her team ahead 60-20.
As a large contingency of Dove Creek fans roared their approval and the Lady Bulldogs upperclassmen exchanged high-fives on the bench, several other players scored, including sophomore Trista Bennett, who drained 3-pointer from the wing to make the score 81-25.
“It was really good to play in front of fans,” Hankins said. “Whenever we don’t have fans, like when we travel to Ouray or something like that, it’s very difficult to get the team up. Our crowd really helps pick us up.”
With its regular season now complete, the undefeated San Juan Basin League champion Bulldogs will receive a bye in the opening round of the Class 1A State Tournament before hosting the winner of a matchup between McClave and Belleview Christian on March 11.
If the No. 7 Lady Bulldogs win on March 11, they would advance to the Great 8 of the Class 1A State Tournament.
“We’re going to stick to what we always do and play come out as one unit,” Hankins said, when asked about her team’s approach heading into the postseason. “We’re going to play our hearts out.”