Cassidy Budge has broken out as one of the top girls' basketball scorers in the city, and that's bad for the rest of the 5A Colorado Springs Metro League.
The Rampart junior - who averages 17.2 points per game - put up her two biggest scoring totals of the season in her last two games. Budge scored 29 points in a win over Fountain-Fort Carson and added 27 for an encore against Liberty in a 77-32 blowout.
"Cassidy has been staying late after every practice and working on her shot, and it's showing," Rampart fourth-year coach Megan Leatham said. "She never takes a possession off on either side of the ball and is a phenomenal all-around player."
Budge has been heating up from the outside the past three games, going 14 for 24 from 3-point range in three wins over 5A CSML competition. The Rams are 12-3 overall and 4-0 in conference.
The 3-point line has been good to the sharpshooter this season, as Budge has shot 44 percent from long range.
"Draining a 3 in a close game when everything is intense is the best feeling," Budge said. "But I also love to get an assist and set my teammates up. I think we're getting better as a team every game and really coming together."
While Budge primarily plays shooting guard, she also is entrusted with handling the ball as the point guard at times. Leatham says having a floor general to rely on like Budge makes her job much easier.
"I put a lot of trust in her, and she's respected by all of her teammates," Leatham said. "Her teammates know when and how to get her the ball where she can score, so they get a lot of credit, too. She's had the hot hand lately, which is important in a league as close as ours."
With only six teams in the conference, every game is big in the standings. Budge has taken her game to a new level since conference play opened, averaging 21 points in the Rams' four conference wins.
The biggest game of Rampart's season up to this point will take place on the Rams' home floor Tuesday night, when they host Pine Creek. The Eagles are 16-1 and also 4-0 in conference. Budge is looking forward to the test.
"I think everyone is pumped for this game, and we've been preparing for Pine Creek for a while," Budge said. "I've been shooting more lately, and I understand my role on this team. My job is to get things going early and set the pace for us."
Leatham says Budge is just as dedicated to her school work off the court as she is to winning the 5A Metro on it.
"Cassidy puts pressure on herself to be great in the classroom and in basketball," Leatham said. "You can't take a day off in our league or you'll get beat, and as a leader Cassidy understands that."
So will Budge crack the 30-point mark this season anytime soon?
"Sure, that sounds great," she said. "Against Pine Creek we may need it."
Justin Shaw, The Gazette