Thursday, December 9, 2004
At first glance, there isn't anything that stands out about Montrose junior Lauren Becker. She stands just 5-foot-5, tucks her jersey neatly into her shorts and wears her blonde hair in a ponytail much like everyone else.
Then she starts to shoot, and in the case of Thursday's game against Steamboat Springs, rarely misses, leading the Indians to a 51-40 win.
Becker, one of just three upperclassmen on Montrose's squad, led all scorers with 19 points Thursday, hitting 3-pointers, mid-range jumpers and running shots. Becker did most of her damage in the first half, as the Sailors struggled to get a hand in her face.
Even when Steamboat contested her shot, Becker was able to knock them down.
"They were running double screens to get her open," said junior Jessica Peters, one of Steamboat's better shooters. "In the second half, we were switching on the screens."
And the Sailors appeared poised to knock off the Indians.
After trailing by as many as 10 points at the outset of the second half, Steamboat turned up the defensive pressure and started making its shots.
Junior Missy Chotvacs and senior Kayla Kostur scored the first 10 points in the third quarter. Chotvacs hit two 3-pointers and got another basket off an offensive rebound. Kostur made two free throws.
"Missy had a great game," Steamboat coach Ashley Berggren said.
After junior Tara King's free throw at the 1 minute, 55 second mark, the Sailors had narrowed the gap to three points. Then Becker stepped up and hit a shot to halt the run.
Teammate Emily Pettis, a sophomore, hit a shot at the buzzer, as Montrose extended its lead back to six at the end of the third.
The Sailors made several runs at the Indians in the fourth but couldn't get closer than six. Each time Steamboat hit a clutch shot, Montrose followed it with two big plays.
The Indians have been a nemesis to the Sailors in recent years, particularly at the district tournament where Steamboat has struggled to stay close to Montrose. On Thursday, though the Indians are a relatively young squad, the Sailors stayed close. Kostur is Steamboat's only returning starter from last season.
"They were good," Peters said. "I think we stuck with them."
Berggren said the next step for the team to take is learning to win. There were certainly positives Steamboat could take away from Thursday's game, despite the loss.
"The first quarter was the best we've played all year," Berggren said. "We were smarter with the ball. We had cleaner passes and better shot selection."
The Sailors also knocked down open looks, which helps free up King and Kostur inside.
"We can still hit more," Peters said. "We can play better."
Kostur and Chotvacs finished with 11 points. Peters had nine. Pettis had 11 points to go with Becker's 19 for Montrose.
Steamboat (0-3 overall) will play Northridge at 4:45 p.m. today at the high school. Montrose will face Roaring Fork.