CENTENNIAL | When two girls basketball teams that had yet to lose to a team in Colorado met Wednesday night, something obviously had to give.
Cherokee Trail (which had suffered its only loss in Las Vegas prior to winter break) and streaking Eaglecrest, which took all three of its defeats in a season-opening tournament in California but had won 11 games in a row to date, clashed at The Nest in an matchup of teams that both had spots in the most recent CHSAANow.com Class 6A coaches poll.
It was the third-ranked Cougars who worked through the emotions that come with a marquee matchup to open a lead and managed to hold off periodic runs by the eighth-ranked Raptors to secure a quality 50-35 road victory.
“It’s a rivalry game, so you’re playing with the mental side as well,” said Cherokee Trail head coach Tammi Traylor-Statewright, whose team has won six straight and improved to 14-1 overall and 2-0 in the Centennial League.
“We played more passive than we usual do, but we eventually got going.”
Coach Robby Gabrielli’s Eaglecrest team dropped to 11-4 and 1-1 in league.
Junior Damara Allen — the team’s leading scorer at better than 11 points per game — finished with just five, but Cherokee Trail earned the victory with other players that filled the void. Sophomore Delainey Miller tied for game-high honors with 13 points, junior Alana Biosse added 11 and sophomore Talia Strode chipped in nine.
The balance was on display early, as seven different Cougars scored in the opening quarter and three different players (Biosse, Strode and junior Jada Banks) made 3-pointers.
“I tell my girls all the time, they don’t have to stop just one of you, they have to stop all of you,” Traylor-Statewright said. “It’s a team game, so when your opportunity arises, take it.”
Eaglecrest senior Laci Roffle scored five of her 13 points in the second period to help her team get as close as seven points, but freshman Aaliyah Broadus drained a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded to end the first half to send Cherokee Trail into halftime riding high and up 26-15.
The Cougars continued to build their lead with good defense as they held Raptors leading scorer Nia McKenzie — who came into the game averaging 15.8 points per game — scoreless in the middle two periods, during which their advantage doubled.
Meanwhile, Miller worked hard in the paint and scored three of the last four baskets of the third period for Cherokee Trail as the lead grew to 16 points.
McKenzie (a Washburn University recruit who finished with nine points) got going a bit in the fourth quarter and Eaglecrest earned its way to the line (earning eight free throw attempts in the quarter) to get a chance to cut into the lead with the clock stopped, but couldn’t cut its deficit below 12.
The teams could very well meet again at the end of the season, but that isn’t certain yet as the Centennial League has moved to a mini-tournament with two pools of four teams in place of two full rounds of league play.
Both teams get back into action on Saturday as Eaglecrest plays host to Cherry Creek (12-3, 2-0) at 1 p.m. and Cherokee Trail plays host to Arapahoe (7-5, 0-1) at 1:30 p.m.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at email@example.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
(6A NO. 3) CHEROKEE TRAIL 50, (6A NO. 8) EAGLECREST 35
Score by quarters:
Cher. Trail 16 10 13 11 — 50
Eaglecrest 8 7 8 12 — 35
CHEROKEE TRAIL (50)
Madeline Gibbs 1 0-0 2, Talia Strode 3 1-2 9, Alana Biosse 4 2-2 11, Damara Allen 1 3-4 5, Delainey Miller 5 3-4 13, Kynli Hart 2 0-0 4, Aaliyah Broadus 1 0-0 3, Jada Banks 1 0-3 3. Totals 18 9-15 50.
Anjolene Ramiro 0 3-4 3, Laci Roffle 2 9-12 13, Lauren Perkins 1 0-0 3, Nia McKenzie 4 0-2 9, Shyann Farbes 1 2-2 5, Natalie Soto 1 0-1 2, Brooklyn Bickerstaff 0 0-0 0, Amaia Jones 0 0-0 0. Totals 9 14-21 35.
3-point field goals — Cherokee Trail (5): Talia Strode 2, Alana Biosse, Jada Banks, Aaliyah Broadus. Eaglecrest (3): Shyann Farbes, Nia McKenzie, Lauren Perkins. Team fouls — Cherokee Trail 14, Eaglecrest 16. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.