Looking to keep their undefeated record intact against an upstart Mancos team that has turned heads in recent weeks, the Dove Creek girls basketball team dug deep during an exciting second half and walked off their home floor with a 42-30 victory on Feb. 26.
“We had a lot of guts and heart,” said Dove Creek senior Grace Hatfield, who led her team with 13 points. “We wanted this really bad, so we fought for it.”
While heart and hustle were certainly key for the Lady Bulldogs throughout their 12-point victory, so, too, was the team’s ability to contain the Lady Jays vaunted transition game during key stretches of the second and fourth quarters.
Among the Dove Creek players that played a key role in slowing down Mancos guards Quincy Montoya and Rhiley Montoya was senior Kobie Beanland, whose defensive intensity and foot speed stymied several promising fast breaks by the Lady Jays.
“I think that we had to win (against Mancos) to fulfill our goal,” Beanland said. “During the fourth quarter, we knew that we had to push right there and right then.”
After an evenly matched first quarter that ended with Mancos leading 7-5, the Lady Bulldogs found their offensive rhythm during the second quarter thanks to Grace Hatfield, whose eight second-quarter points helped Dove Creek build an 18-11 lead heading into halftime.
Ahead 27-15 midway through the third quarter, the Lady Bulldogs appeared to be on their way to an easy victory before a 10-5 run by Mancos over the final four minutes of the quarter made the score 32-25 Dove Creek heading into the final eight minutes of play.
Although Mancos the Lady Jays did their best to catch up and pulled as close as four points at 34-30 after Rhiley Montoya knocked down a long jumper from just inside the 3-point line with 4:35 left in the quarter, Dove Creek closed the game on an 8-0 run that brought the large home crowd to its feet.
“It was amazing, I love our fans,” Beanland said. “I love how them come and support us. It is a big help whenever you’re in a full gym like this.”
Joining Hatfield at the top of the scoring column for Dove Creek was Beanland with nine points, Trista Barnett with eight points and Lexi Gray with 4.
Mancos was led offensively by Hale with 13 points, Quincy Montoya with nine points, Rhiley Montoya with six points, and Lizzy Mee with two points.
After its loss to Dove Creek dropped Mancos’ record to 6-3 overall and 4-2 in the SJBL, the Lady Jays will look to redeem themselves when they return home to face Dolores on Feb. 27.
With its record now at 9-0 overall and 5-0 in the San Juan Basin League, Dove Creek will look to continue its magical regular season run when it travels to Ouray for a SJBL contest on Feb. 27.
The Lady Bulldogs will then play on the road against Bayfield on March 2 before returning home for what figures to be an intense matchup with fellow SJBL powerhouse Ignacio on March 4.
“We gotta play good defense and run our offensive plays,” said Hatfield, when asked what it will take for her team to keep its nine game winning streak alive. “I think we have the biggest heart, so that’s what is going to win it.”