After a tough start to its season, the Dolores High School girls basketball team showed just how lethal it can be when it plays up to its potential during a 57-30 home victory over Ouray High School on Feb. 20.
Five players scored at least six points in the Lady Bears’ convincing victory. Allie Kibel had 20 points; Sam Castillo; 12; Sydney Smith and Ashuanee Begay, eight each; and Akira Edwards, with six.
Ouray received 15 points from star shooting guard Haley Kunz, but they were far from enough as the Lady Bears locked down the rest of the Trojans roster thanks to stellar defense and consistent rebounding throughout the night.
“I liked that we worked together more,” Castillo said. “Even though our offense wasn’t always solid, we still looked for each other and had better passes tonight. (Kunz) is a good player, and it was kind of our goal to shut her down.”
While defense, rebounding and teamwork all played a key role in the Lady Bears victory, so, too, did the play of Kibel, whose shooting prowess, willingness to attack the rim and passing skills impressed fans throughout the evening.
After scoring nine points during the first half to help Dolores build a 23-11 lead heading into the halftime break, Kibel kicked off the third quarter with a bang by draining a long jump shot from the top of the key after a perfect screen by Castillo freed her for an open shot.
Also shooting the ball during the second and third quarters was Begay, who stepped out of her usual post position to drain a 3-pointer from the right wing much to the chagrin of Dolores head coach Tiffany Hill, who cheered loudly from the sideline.
“I’ve been practicing a lot and today I grew the confidence to shoot (3-poitners),” Begay said. “Our team is pretty solid once we work together. I think we did a pretty good job today. All of us were able to participate.”
Leading 41-19 as the fourth quarter got underway, the Lady Bears offense continued to shine as Kibel knocked down jump shots from several spots on the court before stepping outside the 3-point line and knocking down a long 3-pointer to put her team ahead 50-24.
After Hill emptied her bench with approximately three minutes left in the contest, several less experienced Dolores players made the most of their opportunity, including Mikayla Puett, who drained a jumper to put her team ahead 52-27, and Ashlyn Mikkelson, who hit a free throw to give Dolores a 55-30 lead.
Now 2-5 overall and 1-3 in the San Juan Basin League, Dolores will return to its practice court in anticipation of a tough road matchup against league powerhouse Ignacio on Feb. 23.
Asked how her team can improve as it continues to march through its abbreviated season, Begay honed in on offensive execution and ball movement.
“I think we can work more on our offense,” she said. “Instead of taking a shot right away, we need to move it around a little and move the defense. Then we can get better shots up.”