Lady Spartans get back to winning ways

By Dan Karpiel
The Surveyor

Berthoud’s Sydney Kouns defends Mead’s Haylee McCullough on Jan. 27 at Berthoud High School. The Lady Spartans won the contest 58-45. Karen Fate / The Surveyor

Berthoud’s Sydney Kouns defends Mead’s Haylee McCullough on Jan. 27 at Berthoud High School.
The Lady Spartans won the contest 58-45.
Karen Fate / The Surveyor

In taking a quick glance at the Tri-Valley Conference (TVC) girls basketball standings, one thing is clear – the eight-team TVC is segmented into four “haves” and four other “have nots.” The four “haves” – Holy Family, Windsor, Mead and Berthoud – will spend the next three weeks positioning themselves for the state playoffs.

That is precisely why the Lady Spartans 58-45 win over Mead Tuesday night at the Berthoud High School (BHS) gym was such a big deal. After having lost to Holy Family in their previous game and to Windsor on Jan. 16, the Lady Spartans needed to notch a ‘W’ against one of the other TVC “haves.”

It was not a perfectly played game (such a thing probably does not exist) but it also was not a game where the Lady Spartans made any major mistakes or were noticeably lacking in any area of their game.

Berthoud ran its offense efficiently and effectively, marking shots from all areas of the floor and converting 79 percent from the foul line.

“I thought we did a pretty good job of running offense,” Berthoud Head Coach Randy Earl explained after the game. “We moved the ball against their zone, we got it to whoever was open, and we got good shots.”

The Lady Spartans were especially patient running their offense in their first half, going with the hot hand each time down the floor. Junior forward Kristina Cavey drained a pair from downtown, both in the first period, and made 12 of 15 free throws on her way to a game-high 26 points.

Holding a five-point lead at the end of the first period, the Lady Spartans extended it to 10 by the end of the second, 27-17, as sophomore Sarah Howard drained back-to-back buckets in the final minute of the period.

“We know that we can rely on everyone on the team, we all trust each other to take shots, get rebounds, make passes, do whatever we have to do,” said junior forward Maria Fate when asked after the game about the team’s selfless style of play on the night. Fate finished with a game-high 14 rebounds in addition to scoring four points and swiping three steals.

Berthoud's Taylor Armitage pushes for the basket against Holy Family at Berthoud High School on Jan. 23.  Karen Fate / The Surveyor

Berthoud’s Taylor Armitage pushes for the basket against Holy Family at Berthoud High School on Jan. 23.
Karen Fate / The Surveyor

Where the first half was playing patiently on offense and waiting for, then taking, and usually making the ideal shot, the second half was all about sinking free-throws. The Lady Spartans made 23 of 29 free-throw attempts and kept Mead at arms’ length for the duration of the half.

Having pushed their lead to 14, 40-26, by the end of the third period, the Lady Spartans looked like they may have eased up on the throttle a little bit to begin the fourth. Berthoud committed fouls on four straight possessions to put Mead in the bonus and briefly had a run of plays where sloppy passes and some ball-handling errors resulted in turnovers.

“We had some fouls we shouldn’t have had and then we had some turnovers we shouldn’t have had, and that kind of let them get back a little bit,” Earl said.

Yet their defense remained sound, allowing Mead to make only one of their final seven shot attempts from the floor in the fourth period, while Berthoud’s stellar free-throw shooting, 14-for-16 in the fourth period, kept the game well within their control.

“We shoot 25 (free throws) after every practice…it’s just rhythm and routine and we all help each other,” Fate said.

When asked if he believes his team is beginning to gel at just the right time, Earl said, “I think we’re getting close, If we can keep playing like the way we did today we’re going to be just fine.”

The win over Mead puts the Lady Spartans in a tie for third place in the TVC, one game behind Windsor and two games behind undefeated Holy Family. Despite a stellar performance from Taylor Armitage, 20 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks, the Lady Spartans were blown out 57-32 in Broomfield to Holy Family Jan. 23. Berthoud will get an opportunity to exact revenge when Holy Family visits the BHS gym in the penultimate game of the regular season on Feb. 17.

Berthoud (10-6, 5-2) will travel to Erie on Jan. 30 to take on the Lady Tigers (8-7, 0-6). Berthoud beat Erie 47-41 in the pair’s first meeting on Jan. 6.