LOVELAND—For almost any Del Norte success Thursday night, Haxtun had at least two responses.
Until freshman Kendra Parra caught fire with two three-pointers and a deuce early in the third quarter, however, senior Bailey Jones was the Lady Tigers’ answer for nearly every HHS success.
Which wasn’t a bad thing at all; in a battle between Eastern Plains size and San Luis Valley speed, such a hot hand—and, later, hands—was most welcome to a Budweiser Events Center crowd growing restless from a series of low-scoring games played mostly in slowed-down half-court sets.
Not so welcome to the Fightin’ Bulldogs, though.
Two free throws, a steal and breakaway layup forced Haxtun to call timeout down 43-32 with only 3:12 left in the third quarter of the Class 2A State Championships’ ‘Great Eight’ clash. But Parra converted a steal into another two points, and Jones capped the quarter with an unofficial laser-beam three from midcourt (released after the buzzer, but when you’re hot…you’re HOT).
“It was so exciting. It’s my senior year, so…going to put it all out there with all I’ve got,” she said. And with my teammates this year it’s been so much fun.”
Leading 47-36 as the fourth quarter began, Del Norte simply would not be denied. Head coach Gilbert Sanchez was able to give some of his subs extended minutes as HHS couldn’t stay on the Lady Tigers’ pace. But before losing 59-44 Haxtun’s players did their best.
Sophomore Dawson Knode had her game running in high gear as well and racked up 21 points. Senior post Josi Kurtzer (9) and senior post Callie Dickerson (11) combined for a solid 20, but backcourt regular Molly Brown was held to just a fourth-quarter three.
“We watched a couple films on them, and we had no idea; it was kind of a guessing game, you know?” Bailey Jones said. “We knew they were big, had a couple girls who could shoot really good, and we knew we had to shut down certain girls. I think we did that as a team really well.”
Removed along with her fellow regulars with 0:52.7 left in the game, Jones finished with 27 points, buried three treys and was 8-of-8 from the foul line. Parra logged a quality 13, sophomore Lacie Jones registered 11, senior Kathleen Martinez four. Senior center Devin Dallas was slowed by fouls and finished with two points, and sophomore forward Kamrynn Pacheco also contributed two.
“I think a lot of teams are pretty one-dimensional,” said Bailey Jones. “Either they have a paint game or an outside game, and I definitely think this year we have a paint game and an outside game. And when we don’t have one, we have the other…and sometimes we have both! It was really exciting.
Up next, DNHS (22-2) will go against 2-seed Paonia (23-0) in semifinal action Friday at 4:00 p.m. The Fightin’ Bulldogs will fight for their tournament life in an 11:45 a.m. consolation semi versus #7 Swink (20-3).
Class 2A Girls’ “Great Eight”—No. 6 Haxtun 44, at No. 3 DEL NORTE 59:
DEL NORTE (15-16-16-12) 59: B.Jones 8 8-8 27, L.Jones 4 3-4 11, K.Martinez 2 0-1 4, K.Parra 5 1-2 13, D.Dallas 1 0-0 2, E.Gallegos 0 0-0 0, K.Pacheco 1 0-1 2, K.Madrid 0 0-0 0, K.Atencio 0 0-0 0, E.Haefeli 0 0-0 0, R.Velasquez 0 0-0 0, S.McConnell 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 21 12-16 59. 3-POINTERS: B.Jones 3, Parra 2. FOULED OUT: None. RECORD: 22-2. UP NEXT: Fri., 3/10, vs. Paonia in Loveland.
Top: Del Norte’s Kathleen Martinez (22) speeds past Haxtun’s Josi Kurtzerduring Thursday’s 2A “Great Eight” action inside the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland.