The Durango High School girls basketball team had Montrose, the No. 8 team in the latest Colorado High School Activities Association Class 4A poll, on the ropes Saturday afternoon at DHS.
The Demons led 27-26 with 5:46 remaining in the fourth quarter, but the offense had been held scoreless since the 3:17 mark of the third quarter, when they were up by as many as seven points. Despite getting good looks at the basket, Durango could not – and would not – score until Emma Fitzgerald sank two free throws with just 18 seconds remaining. By that time, it was too late and Montrose held on for a 35-29 win.
The drought lasted 10 minutes, 59 seconds, and Montrose went on a 13-0 run until Fitzgerald’s free throws.
DHS head coach Tim Fitzpatrick thought Durango’s offensive prowess fell to the wayside and could not finish off the upset bid.
“We just couldn’t execute some things, but (Montrose) picked up their defensive intensity a little bit in the fourth quarter,” Fitzpatrick said. “We had a few turnovers and a few missed shots. They brought a lot of help (to Tayler Dossey) and locked in, and played better defense. We shied away from what worked.”
Durango (7-10, 0-3 5A/4A Southwestern League) had been successful through its post game, as Dossey and fellow senior Danielle Lee were able to score on second-chance opportunities and driving to the basket. However, head coach Steve Skiff decided to switch things up in the final quarter.
“We felt ... that if we stayed the course, we could come out on top,” Skiff said. “Our defense has been pretty good all year, and Durango, give them credit, they posed a lot of problems, specifically the Dossey girl, who was amazing and was giving us fits all day. We finally got a clamp on her, and knew that if we could keep making stops, and run some effective offense, and we did that.”
In its first possession of the quarter, Montrose forward Allie Nichols made a back-door cut, received a pass in the paint, got the basket and the foul. It finally gave the Indians (14-2, 1-0 SWL) the lead for good and they never looked back.
“That was the play that sparked it all for us,” Skiff said. “We did a good job of chipping away there in the third quarter, and in the fourth, I thought Allie really stepped up for us. She’s that hustle player who will get rebounds, her two-and-one’s were set up by two really good passes by our guards.”
In a four-point game, Montrose grabbed three consecutive offensive rebounds, found Nichols, who scored the basket and got the foul, again. While she missed the chance for her second 3-point play of the quarter, she gave the Indians enough breathing room to make the stops they needed on the other end.
“I’m proud of the girls for learning,” Fitzpatrick said. “They showed at the beginning of the game, attacking the hoop, if we can continue to do that, we’ve just got to be able to put four quarters together with the same type of mentality we showed in spurts.”
Nichols led the way for Montrose with 11 points, and Kennadie Minerich had nine points, which include going 3-of-4 from the free-throw line down the stretch. Dossey finished with a game-high 12 points for the Demons, while Lee and Maddy McManus had six points a piece.
DHS will not play again until it travels to Fruita Monument, at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1 at Fruita Monument High School.
“We’re this close,” Fitzpatrick said, indicating the narrow margins of his team’s season, with his index finger and thumb. “I don’t know what this is, but if we knew, then we might be 14-2, but it’s this. And so it’s just a process.”