The Durango High School girls basketball team cruised to its third consecutive win Thursday night over Telluride 48-17 behind a massive second-quarter effort in which the Demons forced 14 turnovers and stretched a six-point first-quarter advantage out to as many as 18 by halftime.
Emma Fitzgerald and Tayler Dossey each had six points at halftime, and the Demons outscored the Miners 13-1 in the second quarter.
Head coach Tim Fitzpatrick said he stressed a full-court press and it worked. The Demons got steal after steal because of the press.
“I thought our effort was good and we executed a new defense and it worked really well,” Fitzpatrick said. “We really haven’t used it yet and we were able to force a lot of turnovers thanks to our trap.”
In the second half, the Miners (2-5, 0-2 San Juan Basin League) were unable to garner a response and continued to struggle with Durango’s press. As a result, the Demons were able to continue to score easy baskets down low and led 40-9 after three quarters. Dossey led the way with seven points in the quarter.
Durango (4-6) got out to a commanding lead in part because of easy baskets in the post. Sydney Flores was dominant down low and grabbed a plethora of offensive rebounds, which led to second-chance baskets. Additionally on offense, Durango used plenty of back cuts to build the lead.
“Those were the looks we’ve been getting all year,” Fitzpatrick said. “Those are the looks we want to continue to see, and really, it’s all about putting the ball in the hole at that point. When you’re that close in, it definitely helps to have a post presence like Sydney and Tayler, and we’ve been doing a great job of that.”
Telluride head coach Tim Halliday thought his team, which had not previously struggled with the press, could not get around it in the second half, despite putting an emphasis on it at halftime.
“I told the girls that we had to play hard for 32 minutes,” Halliday said. “The turnovers killed us, and for us, getting the girls to fake a pass and then make one. Not just telegraphing the pass every time, and games like this definitely give us something to work on after the break.”
In the final frame, Telluride was able to break the double-digit threshold thanks to a free throw from Margaux Lovely.
“I feel like earlier in the year, we were doing a great job with our press, but today was just a lack of discipline, honestly,” Halliday said. “We weren’t patient and didn’t run the offense the way we wanted to partly because of their half-court trap once we finally beat the press. It was almost frantic when they caught the ball and we just struggled all night.”
The Miners would finish with more turnovers (36) than points (17).
Durango’s leading scorer was Dossey, who finished with 13 points, while Sydney Flores and Emma Fitzgerald each had eight points. Telluride’s leading scorer was Lovely, who had seven points.
Durango will have two weeks off and will get back to action at the Aztec Tournament on Thursday, Jan. 3, against Grants, with the time to be determined.