The Sand Creek girls’ basketball team adopted the mantra ‘Don’t talk about it, be about it,’ partially stemming from last year’s success earning a first-round bye in the 4A state playoffs.
The Scorpions don’t want to dwell on expectations — especially through the final part of the regular season knowing they have a target on their backs.
“We had a taste in our mouths that we could have gone further,” Sand Creek coach Payden Goldberg said, “But it’s easy to say we shoulda, coulda, woulda, but we want to be about it this year.”
Wednesday, host Sand Creek shook off a surprising Falcon team to remain undefeated in 4A/5A PPAC play with a 66-50 win.
At 14-1, Sand Creek is off to the best start since the program’s state semifinal run in 2015-16.
Falcon, on the other hand, is finding success that "came out of nowhere," according to coach Tarike Adams.
The 12-4 Falcons have surpassed their win total from the last two seasons, stacked with junior talent.
“We’re having success that none of us really saw coming and the juniors are doing a great job,” Adams said of his team with just one senior. “Junior year is where the light bulb comes on and they start to understand what we are trying to get out of our offense and showed me a level of play and that’s the expectation now.”
Sand Creek and Falcon struggled early in the first quarter, whether it was missed layups or turnovers, but the Scorpions held a 10-point edge after 8 minutes.
But the Falcons hit 6 of 7 free throws in the second quarter and outscored Sand Creek 10-4 in the final 2 minutes to head into the locker room trailing by one.
With less than a minute to play in the first half Falcon sophomore Billie Fiore hit a jumper to put the Falcons up by two, but Sand Creek junior Nikki Derrell raced down the court after the inbound pass to nail a trey before the buzzer.
And it was all Sand Creek in the second half, outscoring Falcon 19-8 in the third quarter, and going on an 8-0 run to start the final frame.
“During our halftime shooting we all got together and we just said we need to pick it up, believe in ourselves, trust each other, and we just locked it in,” Derrell said.
The Scorpions flexed their physical defense in the second half to keep Falcon out of system, and in turn, stepped up their own offense.
“Our defensive energy starts everything up for us and gets us hyped up and ready,” Derrell said.
Though the score got away from them, Adams saw the second half as a learning experience for his young team.
“They’re physical and they go after it and play hard,” Adams said. “So I told the girls, this is what we need to be, mimic that and be that tough on defense. We want to keep battling them because Sand creek is at the top, and that’s where we want to go. We are excited to play them again.”
Falcon and Sand Creek will meet again in the final game of the regular season.
Late in the fourth quarter Derrell went down with an apparent left ankle injury. She had it wrapped in ice postgame, and said the injury was not swelling, but could not put any weight on it.
She led all scorers with 17 points and leads Sand Creek averaging 14.9 per game.
“We are not thinking it’s anything major,” Derrell said.
Tamika Williams followed with 14 points. Shamira Wallace, who had 12 points for Sand Creek, also went down in the fourth quarter with a leg injury.
Falcon was led by Hannah Burg with 14 points and Trinity Grant had 10.