PARKER - Lutheran is sort of playing our of its league.
The Lions girls basketball team, ranked second in Class 2A poll, is battling against 3A teams in the Metropolitan League, but so far it hasn’t mattered.
Lutheran hosted Holy Family, the state’s No. 3 ranked team in a Metro League showdown last Wednesday and outscored the Tigers 20-1 over the final 9:52 of the game to earn a 41-27 league victory.
The Lions, who finished second in last season’s 2A state tournament, beat Kent Denver 49-27 last Friday to swell their league record to 3-0 and improve to 9-0 on the season.
“The league is so tough, the players, coaching and everything,” Lutheran coach Mark Duitsman said. “We are fortunate to see this kind of action every night. And, I think we’ve shown we can compete.”
Holy Family coach Ron Rossi knows that playing in the Metro League will benefit the Lions during Class 2A postseason play.
“That’s a good team,” he said. “It’s an unbelievable bonus to be able to play in an upper division in the tough Metro League. It’s going to make them tournament ready where Akron (top-ranked 2A team) is not playing the same type of competition.”
The defensive competition displayed by Lutheran and Holy Family was exceptional as neither team shot well.
Lutheran managed to hit only 27.5 percent of its field goal attempts against the Tigers’ zone defense while Holy Family managed to connect on 23 percent from the field against the Lions’ half-court man-to-man defense.
Holy Family led 26-21 with 1:52 left in the third period but Katie Chavez’ free throw with 3:13 remaining in the fourth quarter was the only tally the Tigers could manage the rest of the game.
“We believe in our man defense,” Duitsman said. “The depth of our roster is a factor on offense of course but I think it is more of a factor defensively because we can maintain our pressure.
“Holy Family is up there with the best of them as far as their movements, their screening and their actions so I was really pleased.”
Jennifer Vigil, a 5-foot-5 senior who was a second team Class 2A All-State selection, and 5-10 sophomore Chandler Sturms hit big baskets to spark a 15-0 Lutheran run that transformed a five-point deficit into a 36-26 lead before Katie Chavez scored the Tigers’ lone point of the fourth quarter.
“Our shooting wasn’t surprising,” Duitsman said. “They were packing it in. They were daring us to shoot. We just weren’t knocking them down. We just felt that if we stayed within ourselves on defense that eventually we could get something to break open in the second half.
“We didn’t change anything. It was just a matter of trying to stay confident because we are a good shooting team. It was just one of those games where we had to fight through some droughts.”
Vigil, who had a game-high 17 points, starting driving to the basket to open things up for the Lions. She made a three-point play and sank a 3-point basket to spark Lutheran’s game-winning surge.
“I just do whatever I can,” Vigil said. “Our team may not be hot right away but all four quarters we play our hardest and it usually pays off. We do what we need to and we play such good defense and I’m just so proud.
“When we go up against 2A teams, there isn’t anything we haven’t seen because we play in the Metro League and it really builds our confidence.”
Sturms finished with 13 points with 11 coming in the second half.
Katie Chavez, who picked up her fourth foul late in the third quarter, had 13 points, three assists and two steals for the Tigers.
Holy Family was 0-for-10 from the field with seven turnovers during the final 9:52 of the game.
“The drought, our point guard (Katie Chavez) getting her fourth foul and the five-second call (turnover) and all of a sudden, boom, that changed the momentum and we had to chase and foul and it was game over,” Rossi said.
Lutheran had a home game Wednesday against Jefferson Academy and hosts Bishop Machebeuf Friday.