Air Academy girls basketball uses new outside touch to bombard Discovery Canyon

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Photo - TCA Titans junior Alexa Rogers (30) guards Air Academy Kadets sophomore Kylee Blacksten (13) in the second quarter. The Titans hosted the Kadets in girls' basketball on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 at The Classical Academy. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing
TCA Titans junior Alexa Rogers (30) guards Air Academy Kadets sophomore Kylee Blacksten (13) in the second quarter. The Titans hosted the Kadets in girls' basketball on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 at The Classical Academy. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing

A year ago, Air Academy’s girls basketball team could score from the inside.

Outside?

That was an adventure, and often a bad one for the Kadets.

On Wednesday, Air Academy bombarded Discovery Canyon with outside shots, sinking 7-of-11 3-point shots in the second half, on its way to a 55-33 victory. Host Air Academy improves to 8-1, and Discovery Canyon falls to 6-3.

The Kadet's 2016-2017 season ended with a bitter upset loss to Rifle in the state 4A playoffs. Rifle, the No. 13 seed, had a simple plan: Surround Air Academy senior center Katelin Gallegos.

Air Academy coach Phil Roiko grimaced when he summarized Rifle’s defensive strategy:

“We dare you to shoot,” Roiko said.

He shook his head.

"And we didn’t have the firepower.”

Over the summer, the Kadets spent hours working on their shooting touch. They wanted to develop a powerful inside-outside attack. On Wednesday, the development and the plan looked healthy. The Kadets finished with 11 3-pointers.

Katlyn Blacksten led the Kadets with 15 points and five 3-pointers.

“We have the inside game and we have the outside game,” Blacksten said. “If we shoot like we did tonight, we’re hoping to go far.”

The Kadets took most of their shots from the outer reaches, which was wise. Ashten Prechtel, Discovery Canyon’s 6-foot-5 junior center, was patrolling the lane.

Prechtel blocked seven shots, including four in the first 36 seconds of the third quarter.

After Prechtel’s flurry of blocks, the Kadets seldom challenged her.

“Our outside game was great today,” Blacksten said. “I’m glad we had it because we weren’t really going to be able to do anything on the inside.”

The game was never close after the early minutes. Air Academy jumped to a 27-11 lead while Discovery Canyon struggled with its shooting. Prechtel, who averages 13 points a game, never found her touch, scoring five points.