Brighton High School girls basketball coach Jim French is making out a Bulldogs-centric season wish list just a few weeks before Christmas.
His hopes came after Boulder turned back his Bulldogs 44-37 in Brighton’s gym Dec. 1. Lily Huettel led the Panthers with 17 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Ella Bartsch added a dozen.
Brighton’s top scorer was Zia Gonzales, who had 17 points, including four, 3-pointers. Ava French threw in six points.
“You want to learn, and we’re going to learn from this. We’re going to get better,” French said. “I hope they learn patience, discipline, playing together, not waiting around. When that window is open, capitalize on it.”
Brighton’s team includes four seniors and a half-dozen juniors but not a lot of varsity-level experience. Five of the 11 players played on varsity before.
“We’re looking for them to learn what they gathered and apply it this year and make it their own. Maturity needs to come quick,” French said. “Along with that, we need to get to us in a quicker moment. The talent is there. Playing together is not, at this point. Familiarity with each other, knowing where each other is going to be. As the game speeds up, you don’t speed up with it.
French said he tries to practice his team with as fast a tempo as possible.
“But sometimes, you feel the crowd. You feel the energy, the spectator,” French said. “you want to do good things. I understand an athlete, in general, will feed off that. That can go a couple of different ways.”:
Huettel sank two of her 3-pointers at the end of the first half to push the Panthers to a two-point lead at the break. Brighton used two of Gonzales’ treys to keep things close through the third quarter.
Huettel scored seven of her points in the fourth quarter. The Panthers’ defense held the Bulldogs scoreless for more than five minutes.
“At times,. our defense was really solid,” French said. “That’s what we’ve been known for in the program. Rebounding is still a work, but our man-to-man defense is b better than it was at this time last year. We can definitely build on that.”
Brighton continues its appearance at a tournament at Skyline High School Thursday, Dec. 9, and Saturday, Dec. 11.
“The talent is there,” French said. “It’s just getting them to do it together. Strengths this year is our length. We’ve never been this tall. We just need to understand what we want to do in our game plan and execute that. There’s promise over trouble.”