Girls' basketball: Mesa Ridge shakes off rust, pulls away from Erie

February 28, 2014 Updated: February 28, 2014 at 9:45 pm

For a little over a quarter, Mesa Ridge looked like a team that had been idle for eight days.

Then the unbeaten Grizzlies showed why they were given a top seed in the Class 4A girls' basketball tournament.

The No. 1 Grizzlies went on a 17-5 run to end the second quarter and never looked back, beating No. 9 Erie 59-36 on Friday at Mesa Ridge.

The Grizzlies play again Saturday at 5:30 p.m. against the winner between No. 4 Longmont and No. 5 Berthoud.

"We looked like we hadn't played a game in a week," Mesa Ridge coach Jeff Beatty said. "We didn't hit shots we normally hit. I thought we missed quite a few shots and our shooting percentage was down tonight."

The Grizzlies shot 48.1 percent (26 of 54) for the game.

After Erie's Serena Gudino cut the lead to 18-15, the Grizzlies (24-0) got rolling.

Sami Rudd scored after grabbing an offensive rebound, Kylee Shook scored seven straight points for the Grizzlies, Tiffani Jackson hit a bucket and Gabby Purnell and Kayla Martinez sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around a Tanya Campbell free throw and Mesa Ridge suddenly led 35-20.

"I just look for my teammates, try to push the ball, look for the open man," said Purnell, who scored 14 points and dished a number of beautiful assists. "My teammates come first before I even try to shoot."

"She did a great job, had some really nice passes for us," Beatty said. "Hit some open shots, and when we needed some baskets, she was able to attack the basket well and get in close and score for us."

While the offense was finding its rhythm, the defense held Erie (13-12) to single digits in each of the last three quarters.

The Grizzlies forced five turnovers in the second quarter, then opened the third by forcing another four on the Tigers' first six possessions.

"We didn't get the calls that we wanted, so we came out third quarter, after the first half, definitely ready to play," Purnell said.

The Grizzlies continued to roll in the third period. They outscored the Tigers 16-8, punctuated by Purnell's no-look pass to Shook midway through the period and capped off with Purnell's buzzer-beater that put Mesa Ridge up 51-28 going into the final period.

Eight players scored for the Grizzlies.

"We're very talented," Beatty said. "We have lots of really good players."

It was a far cry from how the Grizzlies opened the game. They turned the ball over just three times in the fourth, but they shot 7 for 18 from the floor (39 percent).

Shook, who finished with 16 points, admitted the Grizzlies came out a bit sloppy. But she vowed Friday's game had them feeling like their old selves by the time the starters started exiting in the third.

"Our shots just weren't falling," Shook said. "We don't normally play like that. But tomorrow we'll play better and we'll score and play defense."

Gudino led all scorers with 21 points.

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