February 4, 2014 Updated: February 4, 2014 at 10:50 pm
It didn't matter much what Pine Creek did, Rampart seemed to always have an answer.
Even to the point the Rams could fast break off Eagles' baskets.
Cassidy Budge continued her hot scoring, posting 24 points, Nicea Eliely added 16 and Megan Kavalec hit a 3 down the stretch to lead Rampart to a 61-45 win at home over Pine Creek to grab sole possession of first place in the 5A Colorado Springs Metro League on Tuesday.
Budge was averaging 26 points over her past three games. Yet somehow, the junior scored the majority of her 10 field goals from inside the paint uncontested.
"I knew they would be helping off because we have great shooters," Budge said. "So the other players, they really help me get in and drive."
The Rams' defense started with a bang, forcing turnovers on four of Pine Creek's first five possessions. It didn't slow down either, forcing another 15 throughout the game.
"We spend a lot of time working on defense and I thought it showed tonight," Rams coach Megan Leatham said.
The Rams (13-3, 5-0 CSML) used a transition off Pine Creek's baskets multiple times, including the Rams' final bucket of the game, which found Eliely scoring with 45 seconds left.
"It's something we've been working on," Leatham said. "A lot of things went our way tonight."
Pine Creek (16-2, 4-1) tried to find room inside the Rams' 2-3 zone. Occasionally it worked.
Mattie Cutts scored a team-high 14 points - the only Pine Creek player in double digits - as she worked in the paint.
"When they were in the 2-3 zone we didn't look to push it," Cutts said. "To start out with we just moved it around. I feel like that kind of disrupted us because we're used to pressure on top of us."
The battle of the area's top two 5A teams was close early. Despite the Eagles' struggles on offense, they got hot in the second quarter, scoring the first eight points and going into half down just three points.
But Pine Creek struggled to find its range in the third quarter, missing its first nine field goals while Budge scored 11 points in the quarter, hitting two 3s, a layup and a three-point play.
"We just played great together," Budge said. "Our rotation was on. We knew we were going to have to win with defense."
Pine Creek freshman sensation Spencer Lindsey, the Eagles' only player averaging in double digits entering the game, was held to five points.
Cutts picked up the Eagles' scoring slack. She sandwiched two field goals around a Courtney Stanton bucket, as the Eagles went on a 6-2 run to cut the lead to 42-34 with 5:53 to play.
But 17 seconds later Kavalec calmly pulled up and hit a 3 and Eliely stole the ball on the Eagles' following possession, going coast to coast for a layup and a 47-34 insurmountable lead.
"It was a turning point," Kavalec said. "As a senior it was my job to get the team going, say this is our game. We wanted that game really bad. Hitting that 3-pointer just set the tone."