Hot-shooting CSCS jumps out to big lead, advances to 3A state girls' basketball title game for second straight year

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Photo - Colorado Springs Christian School junior Megan Engesser dribbles around Moffat County junior Jaidyn Steele to get under the basket at the University of Denver - Hamilton Gym on Friday, March 9, 2018. CSCS won 51-30 to advance to the 3A state championship game.

(Nadav Soroker, The Gazette)
Colorado Springs Christian School junior Megan Engesser dribbles around Moffat County junior Jaidyn Steele to get under the basket at the University of Denver - Hamilton Gym on Friday, March 9, 2018. CSCS won 51-30 to advance to the 3A state championship game. (Nadav Soroker, The Gazette)

DENVER • The Colorado Springs Christian School girls' basketball team had one of its best shooting performances Friday, but it wasn't something the Lions bragged or thought much about.

No. 4 CSCS made 10 3-pointers in a convincing 51-30 win over No. 8 Moffat County in the Class 3A semifinals at the University of Denver's Hamilton Gym. It advanced the Lions to their second consecutive straight title appearance.

They face No. 3 St. Mary's at 4 p.m. Saturday in an all-Pikes Peak region championship match.

On Friday, junior Megan Engesser finished with 18 points on four 3-pointers for the Lions (23-3), while junior Rachel Ingram knocked in three 3s to chip in 12 points. Katie Hildenbrand added eight and two 3s.

The Lions didn't seem impressed after making so many shots from beyond the arc.

"Sometimes the ball goes in more than other times," Engesser said. "Tonight, it went in."

And the shots went in early.

CSCS jumped out to a 21-0 lead before Moffat County knocked in a pair of free throws with 5 minutes, 38 seconds left in the second quarter. It was the Lions' game from there as they led 32-4 at halftime and had a 31-point advantage late in the third quarter.

The Bulldogs (20-5), however, outscored CSCS 18-8 in the fourth quarter with most of the starters on the bench. Moffat County advanced to the semifinals game after knocking off No. 1 Kent Denver.

The Bulldogs were held to just 12 points in the second and third quarters, thanks to a relentless full-court press by CSCS. No Moffat County players scored in double figures.

And even with a big lead, the Lions knew firsthand that could quickly go away. CSCS beat Centaur 52-37 only after overcoming an early 7-0 deficit.

"We had to keep pushing and making that lead bigger," Engesser said. "Leads can get blown like that."

She was part of a Lions team that fell 24-18 to Lamar in last year's title game. It's a loss that the CSCS players and coaches have not forgotten and used for motivation all season.

After the final buzzer sounded, a CSCS assistant coach turned to coach Mark Engesser and said, "This is where we wanted to be, right?"

He nodded.

"It's great to be back," Coach Engesser said later. "The girls worked hard all year to try to get here. They waited 12 months, and they're finally back."