Lady Spartans begin season strong

By Dan Karpiel
The Surveyor

A quick glance at the 2016-17 Berthoud High School (BHS) girls basketball roster might lead one to conclude the upcoming season will represent something of a rebuilding year. Berthoud lost five seniors, four of whom were starters, to graduation, and this season return only two players – sophomore guard Sydney Meis and senior forward Sarah Howard – who logged significant floor time on last season’s state-qualifying squad.

Not so fast on that rebuilding year. Long-tenured Berthoud Head Coach Randy Earl employs a proven, fundamentals-based system that focuses running the team’s motion offense and playing tight one-on-one defense. The system, as well as a seemingly never-ending pipeline of talented players, has seen the Lady Spartans log seven-consecutive winning seasons.

This year’s squad has gotten off to a hot start, winning two of their first three games at this past weekend’s tournament at Manual High School in Denver. Berthoud topped Manual 60-31 on Dec. 1 and bested Ponderosa 58-35 the following night. In the last game of the tourney, Berthoud fell by a 52-30 final to preseason No. 10 (3A)-ranked Liberty Common.

After battling to an 8-8 tie through the opening period, Berthoud ran away in their season opening tilt with Manual. Berthoud hung 19 points on the board in both the second and third quarters and outscored the Thunderbolts 14-12 in the final eight minutes to get the convincing 29-point win. Three Lady Spartans hit double-digits in points; with Ashlee Burdette contributing 15, Meis scored 14 while swiping a game-high five steals, and Kyleigh Milan added 10. Burdette and senior Morgan Schachterle each pulled down 11 rebounds.

Berthoud faced a tougher test the following night against Ponderosa, but once again spread the ball around and saw three players hit double-digits in points. Meis led the way with 18 and Burdette added 10 with each also grabbing a team-high seven boards. Freshman Emily Cavey, the younger sister of Kristina Cavey, who graduated last year as one of the most decorated players in BHS history and now plays at the Division-One level at Fresno State, scored 12 on five-of-eight shooting while also pulling down five rebounds, dishing out three assists and swiping a pair of steals.

Just as Ponderosa provided a tougher test than Manual, Liberty Common provided a tougher test for Berthoud than did Ponderosa. The game got away from Berthoud early, as the Lady Eagles out-scored the Lady Spartans 13-2 in the opening period and then 20-10 in the second to take a commanding 33-12 lead into the locker room at halftime. Liberty Common’s Halley Miklos scored a whopping 35 points on 13 of 16 shooting, proving too difficult for Berthoud’s defense to handle. Cavey scored 15 for Berthoud, the Lady Spartans only player in double-digits and Schachterle grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.

Even with the lop-sided loss to Liberty Common, Berthoud has to feel pretty good about the opening of the season. With all eight players on the varsity roster logging significant minutes on the floor and contributing in multiple ways, the Lady Spartans have the look of a team whose depth will be among their greatest assets.

Berthoud (2-1) will compete in their annual Spartan Classic Tournament at BHS Dec. 7 through 10. The Lady Spartans will face Pueblo East on Dec. 9 and Summit the following afternoon. Following the Spartan Classic, Berthoud will close out their pre-Christmas portion of the season with a trip to Silver Creek on Dec. 12 and home tilts with Niwot (Dec. 16) and Thompson Valley (Dec. 20).