Lady Spartans win third straight, top Roosevelt 59-57

By Dan Karpiel
The Surveyor

As cliché as it may sound, when it comes to the world of sports, one must expect the unexpected.

Playing Tuesday night at Berthoud High School, the visiting Roosevelt Roughriders drained seven three-pointers, including four in the fourth period, to give the heavily-favored Lady Spartans a run for their money. Berthoud ultimately held on, 59-57, to notch its third-straight Tri-Valley Conference (TVC) victory.

The quartet of fourth-period treys from the Lady Riders surprised Berthoud Head Coach Randy Earl, who said after the game that he didn’t know the opposing team had a knack for shooting from downtown. “No, I’ve seen them play a couple times and I haven’t seen them do that,” Earl said. “They were just hot.”

But Earl was quick to point out that his team could have done a better job defensively.

“We didn’t get out of them as good as we should have; we didn’t guard them close enough,” he said.

The 59 points Berthoud hung on the board represented the team’s high-water mark for scoring on the season. A trio of Lady Spartans – Kristina Cavey (18), Maria Fate (10) and Sydney Kouns (13) – all hit double-digits in points.

The Lady Spartans really broke out in the opening portion of the second period. Trailing 14-11 after one, Berthoud assembled a 13-0 scoring run to build a 10-point lead, 24-14. Five Lady Spartans – Cavey, Fate, Kouns, Taylor Armitage and Sarah Howard – got in on the scoring frenzy as the home team made good on five of its first seven shot attempts in the period, while Roosevelt missed its first seven from the floor.

Whatever momentum the Lady Riders were able to generate with a 6-0 run to close out the first half, cutting Berthoud’s lead to 26-20, was erased in the opening minutes of the third as Fate scored four points on back-to-back possessions to put the Lady Spartans back ahead by 10, 39-29.

Berthoud was able to keep its lead in the neighborhood of 10 points throughout most of the second half, using a combination of opportunistic defense and timely offense. With 6:48 left in the game, Cavey swiped a steal, executed a textbook behind the back dribble to get the just-stolen basketball away from Roosevelt’s Michelle Batista and drove the length of the court for a lay-up to put Berthoud up 48-38.

Roosevelt was able to assemble a late-game run, draining four from beyond the arc, two of which came off the hands of diminutive freshman Elyssa Crespin, to cut Berthoud’s lead down to a single possession on two separate occasions. Yet a four-for-four effort from the charity stripe and a three-pointer courtesy of Kouns kept Berthoud in the lead, albeit barely.

“There were definitely a couple points in the game where we needed to re-cap ourselves and re-focus, but we pulled together well, I think. It was really close, but we managed to do it,” said Howard.

Howard, who is playing a bigger and bigger role for the Lady Spartans with each passing game, made a critical lay-up with 1:38 remaining that put Berthoud up 59-56 and then iced the game shortly afterwards by swiping a steal on what would be Roosevelt’s final possession of the game, ending the Lady Riders’ hope of a miracle comeback.

Having been thrust into a role as one of the Lady Spartans’ primary ball-handlers when Cavey missed time with a knee injury did Howard, a sophomore, a lot of good. Asked about taking on such a critical role as a sophomore with no prior varsity experience, Howard said the baptism by fire, “helped me get my head straight, all the jitters were all out after the first game.”

The sophomore guard credited her teammates with her rapid development.

“They make me a better basketball player, and it’s such a privilege to play with them. I’m really glad I can contribute something to the team.”

After Tuesday’s win, Earl looked and sounded like a man who is pleased with what he sees from his squad. And, Earl said, he thinks his team is really beginning to find its groove.

“Yeah, at least tonight it looked that way,” he said. “Hopefully we can keep doing that. The competition is going to get a lot tougher here over the next few games.”

Indeed. Berthoud (8-4, 3-0) begins a brutal stretch of their schedule Jan. 16 when Windsor (7-3, 1-0) pays a visit to the Berthoud gym. The two teams shared the TVC crown last season and both appear to be in the mix for the conference title again this year.