AURORA | For the first time since early in the 2015-16 season, the Smoky Hill girls basketball team is on a one-game winning streak.
On Saturday — in just the second game of the new 2017-18 campaign — the Buffaloes downed Hinkley 49-26 on the road to snap a losing streak that stretched 43 games and nearly two full calendar years.
Smoky Hill’s previous victory came on Dec. 11, 2015, with a 43-32 win over Ponderosa at the Dakota Ridge tournament. The Buffaloes dropped their remaining 19 games of that season, went 0-23 under new head coach Rick Harris last season and dropped this season’s opener 73-42 to George Washington Nov. 29.
“I’m happy to get that 800-pound gorilla off my back,” Harris told the Sentinel Monday.
“There was excitement for the players after the game, but I think they were a little stunned. I don’t know if right away they had the opportunity to digest what had really happened…To be honest, I’m not sure if it’s sunk in with me yet.”
Harris came to Smoky Hill after a quarter century on the staff of legendary coach Caryn Jarocki at Highlands Ranch, where he was part of a program that went to nine Class 5A state championship games and won seven of them in that span.
Interestingly enough, Jarocki will try to get win No. 600 on Tuesday.
Career win No. 1 for Harris came against a Hinkley team that beat Smoky Hill 70-19 last season.
This time, the Buffaloes outscored the 0-2 Thunderbirds 19-3 in the opening quarter and built on their lead in each quarter.
Junior guard Aliya Givens — who poured in 33 points in Smoky Hill’s opening loss to the Patriots — finished with 19 points to lead the way, while senior Kymaia Gibson added 16.
Harris wished his team had a little bit more time to “bask in the glow of victory,” but instead it turns around to play a 7 p.m. home game Monday against Palmer (1-2). The Buffaloes lost to the Terrors by 49 points last season.
“There are a lot of teams we’re going to come across on the rest of our schedule that have no intentions of losing to us,” Harris said. “That’s where our athletes can get better.
“We really have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
SMOKY HILL 49, HINKLEY 26
Score by quarters:
Smoky Hill 19 10 10 10 — 49
Hinkley 3 6 9 8 — 26