By Michael Hicks
FORT COLLINS — Considering how things started, the Berthoud Lady Spartans may have been fortunate to even be in the game. But by game’s end, all head coach Randy Earl could ponder was how his team lost Saturday’s fifth-place consolation game at the Poudre Holiday Invitational.
Danielle Wikre’s jumper came after the final buzzer. That’s how close Berthoud came to victory. Instead, Fountain-Fort Carson escaped with a 46-45 win at Poudre High School, even though the Trojans led by 11 in the game’s first six minutes and never trailed.
“We played better. We hurt ourselves — too many turnovers, we don’t make the right decisions on offense. We hurt ourselves,” Earl said. “Too many easy missed shots. We should’ve won by 10. We played good enough to win by 10 even with the way it was.”
Berthoud finished the tournament 1-2, which included a loss to Columbine in Tuesday’s opening round and a convincing win over Denver North on Thursday.
While the Trojans utilized a full-court press to create turnovers and score quickly in the paint, Berthoud’s half-court setup allowed the Lady Spartans to attack Fountain-Fort Carson’s defense and create free-throw opportunities after opportunities. The end result was Berthoud shooting 26 foul shots and making 20. The Trojans got to the line just five times, making three of them.
Though Berthoud (2-2) never led, it cut an 11-point second-quarter deficit to 24-21 at halftime. Even though the Trojans pushed the lead back to nine twice in the second half, the final time at 44-35 with 3 minutes, 35 seconds left, they could never put Berthoud away.
“It (the full-court press) hurt us bad in the first quarter, but we settled down and we started to hurt them a little bit,” Earl said. “We don’t do well with the pressure. We have to do better with the pressure.”
The Spartans scored the next six points to narrow the lead to 44-41. Ironically, Fountain-Fort Carson’s next two points came from the charity stripe, when Yahna Harris hit two free throws with 1:31 left.
After Rose Heaphy put back an offensive rebound to cut the deficit to three, Amy Ekart, who scored a game-high 21 points, scored from the right wing to make the score 46-45.
Fountain-Fort Carson had a chance to increase its lead with 24 seconds left, but London Williams missed the front-end of a 1-and-1 free-throw opportunity. But the Trojans rebounded the ball to maintain possession, only to lose it by stepping out of bounds, giving Berthoud one last chance.
After the Spartans broke Fountain-Fort Carson’s tenacious full-court press, Berthoud got the ball upcourt only to not get a shot off until after the buzzer. A shot that Wikre made.
“It was good, but we had just way too many turnovers,” Wikre said of Berthoud having a chance at victory despite all the miscues and early double-digit deficit. “In the first quarter we can’t handle the pressure. In the first and third we didn’t do well with that.”
D’shara Strange led the Trojans with 20 points.
FOUNTAIN-FORT CARSON 46, BERTHOUD 45
FOUNTAIN-FORT CARSON 11 13 10 12-46
BERTHOUD 4 17 5 19-45
FOUNTAIN-FORT CARSON: D’shara Strange 10 0-0 20; Tyler Franklin 2 0-0 4; London Williams 1 0-1 2; Jordan Kemp 1 0-0 3; Audra Parmer 2 0-0 4; Dionysia Cropper 1 1-2 3; Renata Rankin 3 0-0 6; Yahna Harris 1 2-2 4. TOTALS: 21 3-5 46.
BERTHOUD: Megan McGinn 2 2-3 6; Amy Ekart 5 8-10 21; Kacey Fagler 0 2-2 2; Danielle Wikre 1 8-8 10; Rose Heaphy 3 0-1 6; Sarah Loberg 0 0-2 0. TOTALS: 11 20-26 45.
3-POINTERS: Fountain-Fort Carson 1 (Kemp); Berthoud 3 (Ekart)
FOULED OUT: None
TECHNICAL FOULS: None
<p>Berthoud’s Amy Eckart plays tight defense against a Denver North player in a game that saw the Spartans shut down North’s offense, allowing only 15 points.</p>