The last six games of the season for the Falcons weren't designed to be easy ones, starting with a rematch against the Cheyenne Mountain.
The Indians (10-9 overall, 7-3 4A Pikes Peak Athletic Conference) hosted Falcon (9-9, 6-4) Tuesday in a position battle in the league standings. Last month when the two teams met, the Indians hung on for a three-point win.
Cheyenne Mountain came out on top again 39-30 to move into sole possession of third place in the league.
Anna Johnson led Cheyenne Mountain with 12 points, while sophomore Cailee Nehme added 11.
Cheyenne Mountain held the Falcons to four points in the second quarter by forcing turnovers, allowing the Indians to take the lead aided by a 3-pointer from Nehme.
Both teams got off to a slow offensive start in the first with Falcon outscoring the Indians 9-3.
"We always talk about our mental toughness," Indians coach Dan Fortenberry said. "We have some experience playing through adversity and for us it's about controlling what you can control."
On a fast break, Tori Burnett found Johnson under the bucket for a quick layup and a four-point lead late in the half.
Johnson was fouled later and sank a free throw to bring Cheyenne Mountain's lead to 18-13.
"We talked about control of our effort and our attitude," Johnson said. "Even though there were turnovers, we focused on playing in the present."
Johnson continued to get hot, converting offensive rebounds into points, including a jump shot under the basket which she turned into an old-fashioned three-point play to help the Indians start to pull away 26-15.
Nehme's bounce pass to sophomore Anna Hortik cutting in the back door put the Indians up 28-17 heading to the fourth.
The Falcons came out gunning in the final period with the roster's two freshmen, Jade Adams to Jasmin Young, making a play for a baseline layup. Later, Falcons senior Ally Martinez caught sophomore Harmony Pettis on a fast break to help cut the Indians' lead to six.
Falcon coach Tarike Adams said the loss wasn't due to a lack of talent but rather an example of his young roster gaining experience.
Pettis, who finished with a game-high 14 points, put up six in the final period. She also led in points in the Falcons' last meeting against the Indians.
The Falcons outscored Cheyenne Mountain 13-11 in the final quarter but struggled to put together a run despite its full-court press.
"This has happened to us more than a couple of times this season," coach Adams said. "We need to transfer over some of the great things we do in practice. We have a variety of successful plays, and when you pinpoint it, it's about them learning to be patient with them (the plays)."
Johnson was most pleased by the team's unity and ball movement.
"In the past, we've struggled in the third quarter," she said. "It was nice to see us come out with dominance the whole game."
Five games remain for the Falcons, including games against PPAC front-runners Sand Creek and Palmer Ridge, as well as state-ranked No. 4 Elizabeth, which the Falcons added as a make-up game.
"We wanted to play not just anyone," he said. "You learn more from failure than you do from success."