HIGHLANDS RANCH - Rock Canyon girls basketball coach Robbie Ballard is a little concerned about his team’s habit of letting comfortable leads evaporate.
However, if the Jaguars start the way they did last Tuesday night, it erases some of the worry.
Rock Canyon jumped to a 20-5 first quarter advantage and went out to defeat Mountain Vista, 72-60, in a Continental League game at Rock Canyon’s gym.
The Jaguars, ranked No. 5 in the Class 5A poll, improved to 2-0 in the league and 12-2 on the season while Mountain Vista saw its conference record evened at 1-1 and its overall record drop to 11-3.
“The first quarter we came out pretty strong and then we kind of let down and let them come back but we pulled it out,” said Rock Canyon junior forward Kendall Koslosky. “Lately we have been having problems being consistent for the whole game but we are working on it.”
Rock Canyon came out with a trapping defense which led to eight first quarter Mountain Vista turnovers. The Jaguars cashed in on several fast break baskets against the Golden Eagles who managed to hit only two of 12 first quarter field goal attempts.
“We talked about their transition game, getting back on defense and we didn’t do that in the first quarter,” Mountain Vista coach Mike Willahan said. “Rock Canyon is a good basketball team. They are a top five team in the state for a reason. They came out and were ready to play.”
Mountain Vista trimmed Rock Canyon’s lead to seven points late in the first half but Erin McClarie’s 3-point basket just before the halftime buzzer gave the Jaguars a 36-26 lead at intermission.
Rock Canyon scored the first 11 points of the third quarter to swell its lead to 21 points but with 2:54 left in the game, Mountain Vista had trimmed to lead to seven points at 63-56 after a 3-point basket by Chelsea Pearson.
The Jaguars outscore the visitors 9-3 down the stretch to secure the win.
“The first quarter,” Willahan mumbled. “We played them even for two of the next three quarters. It was my job as a coach to have my team ready to come out and play.
“I’m really proud of my team. The effort and resiliency was there. We cut it to seven just before half and they had big 3-pointer. That was a backbreaker, a momentum changer. We cut it to seven with three minutes and had a chance to cut it to five and missed a layup. Hopefully we can learn from this.”
Kolinsky, who scored several easy baskets and many coming after she took long passes to break the Mountain Vista press, had a game-high 29 points, junior Levy Thorderson had 25 points and McClarie, another, junior finished with 11 points.
“I’m pretty fast and can run and we have good guards that pass the ball to me,” Koslosky said. “Mountain Vista is kind of our rival because we are both from Highlands Ranch so this was a big game.”
During Rock Canyon practice sessions the girls shoot 15-foot and 3-point shots in a license to shoot drill. Players who make 60 percent to get the okay to shoot in a game.
Thorderson, Koslosky and McClarie must have been accurate in practice because Thorderson made three 3-pointers and Koslosky and McClarie one each.
Jordan Graff, a 5-foot-6 junior guard, led Mountain Vista with 14 points while Maddy Whetstone and Paige Keller each had 11 points. Karlee Schwartzkopf added 10 points for the Golden Eagles.