A year ago, the St. Mary’s girls basketball team rolled to 3A’s elite eight.
This season, the Pirates want even more.
“Oh, yeah,” said sophomore point guard Josephine Howrey. “I’m very hungry for a state title.”
On Friday night at Manitou Springs, St. Mary’s roared to a 57-39 victory. The Pirates dominated start to finish, and their loud, happy fans took control of the Manitou gym.
“A great crowd,” said St. Mary’s coach Mike Burkett. “I thought it was almost like a home game.”
The Pirates burst to a 34-15 lead early in the third quarter, essentially ending the game. Burkett had asked his players to be more aggressive on offense. He had been bothered by the Pirates tendency to settle for jump shots.
The Pirates obeyed and attacked the basket all night. They led 55-24 in the fourth quarter when Burkett emptied his bench.
Seneca Hackley led St. Mary’s with 17 points, followed by Makenna Bodette’s 14 and Howrey’s 13. Maren Mildestredt led Manitou (5-5) with 13.
Burkett said his team is openly ambitious. The Pirates went far in 2017. They want to travel to the state title game in 2018. This is not some out-of-reach vision. The Pirates are 10-0.
“I think they can be as good as they want to be,” Burkett said. “I’d like to see them achieve what they think they can achieve.”
Over the summer, the Pirates played close to 60 competitive games, and Burkett said they won most of them. The result is an experienced, smooth, confident team.
Manitou’s first-year coach Justin Armour was impressed.
“You just see the results of kids who have been in the program that is the same every year,” Armour said. “Fundamentals are taught. They don’t turn the ball over. They are patient. Those are true basketball players out there. Their energy all game is top notch. That team is deep.”
Howrey started last season as a freshman, and she said the experience was sometimes overwhelming. She played well, averaging 11 points a game, but she didn’t always feel comfortable directing the offense.
Her comfort level has soared this season, and it shows. She leads the team in scoring, and doubles as a superb defender.
“She’s very important to what we do,” Burkett said.