Girls hoops

Palmer Ridge junior Natali Volk passes the ball while Doherty sophomore Tahlaya Biglow plays defense Friday, Jan. 7 at Palmer Ridge High School in Monument.

Lessons aren't reserved for the losing team.

Doherty learned plenty Friday in a 49-46 win to open the PPAC slate over Palmer Ridge — a game that saw the Spartans' double-digit lead turn to a deficit before they fired right back.

Senior Peyton Sterk, as she's known to do, led the charge, even when she and fellow senior Gabby Beauperthuy — the team's leading scorers on the year — struggled on the same night.

"Peyton wants to win more than any kid on the floor," coach Stephanie Leasure said. "Gabby does too, and I feel terrible that both didn't play well. What I know, though, is that I have two kids that I can trust with the ball in their hands, because they've been in these situations before."

Through the first quarter, the word 'struggle' wasn't on any list of adjectives to describe the Spartans' effort.

Doherty crafted a 10-2 lead in the first four minutes. By the end of the first quarter, it held an 18-7 lead thanks to aggressive defense and shot making.

Then, the tide turned.

Whistles started to blow, docking the Spartans for hand checking on nearly every other possession. In turn, Palmer Ridge went into the bonus with six minutes left until the half — a sign that a comeback could be in the works.

The fouls turned a confident Doherty team into a nervous one on defense, enabling even more fouls.

Even so, the Bears took until the 6:21-mark of the fourth quarter to tie it at 37-37. Moments later, a free throw put them up 38-37 and marked their first lead of the game.

Palmer Ridge senior Mia Womack played a big role, scoring six 3-pointers in the final three quarters as part of her game-high, 24 points.

Sterk, led by a head of steam and aggression, used her own 20 points to weather the storm, including a clinching lay-up to put the Spartans ahead for good with under 30 seconds left.

She's been a part of PPAC league champions. The first game of the league season is huge.

"It sets the mood for the rest of the year," Sterk said. "With a league championship, even if we're 10-0, we'll probably still have to play Palmer Ridge again for the title.

"We get a lot of confidence, and it helps us to get a win, even if it was ugly."

The ugly and pretty wins all count the same for Leasure. In a perfect world, Doherty's early lead would've turned into a big one that allowed the team to get back into a rhythm after the break.

But the lessons came anyway — and with a win, nonetheless.

"We're fortunate enough to get to learn and still win a game," Leasure said. "We're still 1-0 (in league play), and we'll learn a ton from it."