Sometimes a team doesn't need four quarters to tell a story. Mesa Ridge girls basketball told its story in the first half.
The Grizzlies overcame an early 7-0 run by rival Widefield on Thursday to cruise to a 67-39 win, their seventh-straight victory.
"We knew they were going to start out hot for sure but our coach tells us we have a chance to win in the fourth quarter. So we took that, ran with it and got that game," Mesa Ridge junior Brayanna Pelt said. "We trusted in our shooters. We're good. We didn't really stress. ... We knew the game was going to be like that."
Widefield's Kasaya Krause nailed a 3-pointer and freshman leading scorer Isabella Monk banked in a mid-range jumper as part of the Gladiators early run. Mesa Ridge stayed the course through tough defense and forcing Widefield to take low-percentage shots.
On the other end, the Grizzles were aggressive in the paint, drawing fouls and converting "And 1" opportunities. Mesa Ridge senior Analissia Wise knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to give her team their first lead at 17-14 late in the first quarter. The Grizzlies finished the quarter up 20-14.
Mesa Ridge remained stingy on defense in the second. The Gladiators went about a full quarter from midway through the first until midway into the second scoring just two points. The Grizzlies on the other hand lit it up from beyond the 3-point arc in the second half, with Pelt, Wise and sophomore Maya Warriax all hitting from downtown. Mesa Ridge kept getting to the foul line and made all eight second-quarter free throws.
The Grizzlies headed to the half with a 41-23 lead and, though Widefield continued to battle in the second half, the Gladiators never really got back into the game.
Wise and Pelt were all smiles on the court after forcing a turnover on a Gladiators offensive foul and shared laughs on the bench in the fourth quarter when the game was well in hand.
Wise finished with 17 points tied with Kassiah Ducworth, who did most of her damage from the paint and the foul line. Pelt finished with 16. Pelt and Wise have led the way for Mesa Ridge in scoring this year. Pelt credits the duo's chemistry.
"I love having a teammate that I can trust, she trusts me. We have that chemistry," Pelt said of Wise. "I hit her, (whether she makes it or not) I trust her to make that shot though. Every time. You just have that bond."
With Thursday's win, Mesa Ridge remains undefeated and in first place in the 5A/4A Colorado Springs Metro League at 7-0. The Grizzlies have won 10 of their last 11 dating back to before the start of the calendar year. Sometimes the team's margin of victory is a near 30-point statement like Thursday. Other times it's a narrow one or two-point edge but they all add to an impressive record for Mesa Ridge.
"It's the kids. The kids have stuck by what we're asking them to do as my coaching staff and as each other and that sort of thing," Grizzlies coach Kaitlyn Mileto said. "They've stuck together. They work really hard for one another and as you can see Keiran McCormick's busting her tail on the rebounds (Ducworth's) busting her tail on the rebounds. We've got shooters on the outside, so we've got good components. But the bottom line is that they pull together and they just work hard for each other."