Sargent girls seeking fresh start in SoPeaks

Sargent’s McKenzie Tolliver (15) attempts to smack the ball free from the grip of Bayfield’s Kira Riley Tuesday evening.  Tolliver scored six points in a 37-33 defeat. (Photo courtesy Joel Priest)

SAN LUIS VALLEY— With the second of three games this week set to tip off at 3:30 p.m. today, there won’t be, nor has there recently been a lot of time for the Sargent girls’ basketball team to breathe casually. But in hoping to pull out of a five-game skid, first versus Center and then Saturday versus Crested Butte Community School, the Lady Farmers should be able to at least breathe a little easier.  Just a little.

“We had a game Saturday, had a game today,” head coach Stan David said, after Tuesday’s road trip west into La Plata County, “so every day this week’s…basically a pre-game.  But I’m not approaching it as a ‘pre-game;’ we’re having regular practices, trying to get ready for teams.  We’ve got to prepare.”

“We saw Center earlier—at the Centauri tournament—so we kind of know what to expect…got some stuff on film we can work on, what their tendencies are,” he continued.  “But…a couple girls weren’t there, so they’ll be a little different team than what we saw then.”

Junior Lainie Dillon’s four three-pointers and 16 points paced SHS at 3A Bayfield (4-9 overall) Tuesday evening, but with junior Alexia Aguilera plagued by four fouls—allowing the Lady Wolverines to watch senior Harlee Pepper (9 points) more closely—Sargent (4-7 overall) fell 37-33, the latest loss in a savage stretch of schedule including a 1/20 loss at Sanford, a 1/18 home loss to non-league 2A Ignacio, a 1/13 home loss to Del Norte and a 1/11 home loss to Mosca Sangre de Cristo.

The Lady Thunderbirds checked in at No. 5 in this week’s Class 1A poll, while DNHS rose a notch to No. 6 in 2A, IHS remained No. 8, and the Lady Indians were an ‘Others Receiving Votes’ inclusion.

“Granted, our team…every team we play, we’re smaller than.  And we get bumped off-balance just because we’re not big enough and don’t fight through it enough,” David said, “and it hurts us on the defensive end.  So we’ve got to get stronger and tougher, and mentally tougher to play through that stuff.”

And even with Center making the short trip with a 1-10 overall record after Tuesday’s 55-25 home loss to Blanca Sierra Grande, and CBCS likely to be 2-10 after welcoming a well-rested Del Norte to Mt. Olympus Friday evening, David indicated his team’s focus would be on fundamentals, game by game.

“Getting in the right positions, being in the right spot, making tough shots…. We’ve got to have more intensity, and we’ve got to quit getting down on ourselves, on teammates,” he stated.  “When things get tough we can’t just start playing down, we’ve got to start fighting back and working harder.” And that means at both ends of the court.

“You know, we worked so hard on offense to get the lead and we didn’t play defense at all,” David said after the loss inside BHS Gymnasium, in which freshman post McKenzie Tolliver pierced the heart of BHS’ zone defense for two vital baskets—giving the 2A Lady Farmers a brief 33-32 lead, before Bayfield junior Tymbree Florian drove hard for two baskets and freshman Madison Wells sank a clinching free throw with 52.8 seconds left after Dillon was forced to foul in a time-saving move.

“Our defensive intensity and pressure is not there, you know?  I went zone, then we went back to man and started playing better, and then late—when we’d got the lead—we let ’em have a layup again!”

“When we’re not scoring we’ve got to play better ‘D,’” he said, likely alluding to a)the fact only four players scored points at Bayfield, and b)his squad’s collective 31.2-ppg output during their last five outings.  “We hit a dry spell where we couldn’t score, and when you do that it makes it tough and you’ve got to play defense.”

“Center’s going to be ready for us.  Struggled like us at times, but they’re improving and we can’t take that lightly. That’s league play, and we’ve got to show up tough in league!”