Published: February 21, 2014
Pine Creek waited 12 years to finally return to league supremacy in girls' basketball.
And with a starting lineup that consists of four freshmen and a sophomore, Friday's 56-49 homecourt win over Rampart might be just the beginning.
Freshman Spencer Lindsey led a balanced scoring attack with 16 points, sophomore Jayne Lydiatt grabbed 10 rebounds and the Eagles (21-2) avenged an earlier loss at Rampart as the two schools shared the 5A Colorado Springs Metro League title with 9-1 marks.
"We threw them into the fire early in the season, and it was a baptism by fire," Eagles coach Kelley Stewart said. "They had to come in and play under control and with poise. But no one expected us to be 20-2 and be competing for a league title. I told the girls they had nothing to lose and to play relaxed, and they did."
Lindsey's 3-pointer from the left side following an offensive rebound started an 8-0 run and gave the Eagles the lead for good at 29-28 with 4:30 left in the third quarter.
When freshman Jade Odom hit a jumper from the free-throw line at the buzzer, the Eagles had a 39-31 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Rampart (18-5) clawed back, led by Nicea Eliely, who scored nine of her game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter. But Pine Creek, despite its overall youth, didn't flinch.
"Normally, I'm not good at staying calm in pressure situations," Lindsey said. "For this game, for my team to be able to win, I had to bring everyone together and lead the team, and everyone else contributed. With me keeping my composure, everyone else did, too, and it made it easier to come together and pull through."
The Rams achieved history as well, despite falling short in the regular-season finale, claiming a share of their first girls' basketball league crown since 1990. Rampart beat Pine Creek 61-45 in the first meeting on Feb. 4.
The teams will learn of their first 5A playoff assignment Sunday, when the 48-team field is announced.
Cassidy Budge scored 11 of her 14 points in the first half, as Rampart built an 18-10 lead early in the second quarter. Half of the team's points came on free throws as Rampart made a point to drive to the basket to get to the line.
"We knew if we got to the line, we were good," Budge said. "They adjusted well in the second half, and our shots weren't falling. They knew we liked to run and stopped our transition game."
Pine Creek answered with a 10-1 run, ended by Kaelyn Schultz's easy layup off her missed free throw with 3:28 left before halftime that gave the Eagles a 20-19 lead.
The teams entered halftime tied at 24, but Pine Creek succeeded where it had failed in the first meeting.
"The difference was the entire team playing together," Lindsey said. "In the first game, we were way off, not playing together, getting mad at each other and not running plays. We basically just gave up. Winning league is one of the best things that could happen to us. Most people doubted us at the beginning of the season. This just makes us stronger."