CALHAN – Ellicott senior center Graciela Donez considered Friday’s Black Forest League game against Colorado Springs School an opportunity for the Thunderhawks to make a statement.
They did just that, erasing an early deficit with an 18-1 edge in the second quarter en route to a 52-40 win that improved their record to 10-2 and 2-0 in league play.
“We needed to win this one,” Donez said. “This one kind of showed how well we work together as a team and how hard we can work. It was just kind of like a statement game for us.”
Between Donez and Devinne Larreau, the Thunderhawks owned a noticeable advantage on the inside.
“When they get it in the post and you’re behind them, you’re in trouble,” Ellicott coach Cody Chambers said.
“I didn’t think we got the ball inside enough. I would have liked to hit the inside more than we did tonight. We have two really good bigs.”
The duo scored 12 points apiece to lead Ellicott.
“I think their two posts, Larreau and Donez, are probably two of the biggest and strongest and best posts we’ll see this season … and they have both of them on the same team,” CSS coach Vicki Vaughan said.
Larreau opened the scoring on the first of many second-chance points for the Thunderhawks.
CSS (9-2, 1-2) closed the quarter on a 12-4 run fueled by open layups off back cuts to lead by six to start the second.
When Ellicott adjusted, the Kodiak offense dried up.
Consecutive scores from Donez to open the quarter, three buckets from Larreau and two timely 3-pointers fueled the game-changing run that saw Ellicott lead 24-13 at halftime.
“I don’t know if we were tired or what, but our energy was not good in the first quarter,” Chambers said. “In the second quarter, they picked it up, especially in the defensive end, which translated to points on the other end.”
At the half, Vaughan challenged her team to do the same, create easy scores off good defense.
Using full-court pressure late in the third quarter, the Kodiaks forced turnovers and closed within seven after falling behind by as many as 16.
It ultimately wasn’t enough, as Ellicott used early scores from Larreau and Donez to expand the lead back to double digits early in the fourth quarter.
“Had we hit a few more shots tonight, who knows what would’ve happened, but that 18-1 run really decided the game,” Vaughan said.
Natalie Richardi led the Kodiaks with 13 points, nine in the second half, while Sarina Mansour added 10.