The Air Academy girls' basketball team continues its winning streak thanks to total-team effort

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Photo - Air Academy Kadets assistant coach Kauna Kama (center) talks with the team during a timeout in the fourth quarter against the Discovery Canyon Thunder. The Kadets defeated the Thunder 43-37 in girls' basketball on Friday, January 26, 2018 at the Discovery Canyon Campus. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing

Air Academy Kadets assistant coach Kauna Kama (center) talks with the team during a timeout in the fourth quarter against the Discovery Canyon Thunder. The Kadets defeated the Thunder 43-37 in girls' basketball on Friday, January 26, 2018 at the Discovery Canyon Campus. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing

The Air Academy girls' basketball team doesn’t have a superstar in its starting lineup.

No double-figure averages.

Not one player who stands out above the 11 names on its roster.

But the Kadets have proved they don’t need a hero.

Air Academy has won 13 straight, solidifying its standing as the No. 2 4A girls' basketball program in the state - and it is doing it as a team.

“These girls have great chemistry,” Kadet assistant coach Kauna Kama said. “It’s nice that it can be a different leading scorer every night because they can rely on everybody to step up. They don’t force shots, they share the ball and they have a lot of confidence in one another.”

MaxPreps lists senior Mary Parchinski as the team's leading scorer, averaging 9.9 points. Followed by Kylee Blacksten with 9.5. Followed by a slew of six-point per game scorers.

“With our team, it’s not just five players on the court, it’s not just that one player going off, we all have different talents and we all kind of mesh really well together,” Kadet captain Liza Louthan said. "Everyone is unselfish. Nobody wants all of the glory for themselves.”

Friday the Kadets survived one of their closest battles of the year as Discovery Canyon forced a three-point game in the final 10 seconds of regulation in a 5A/4A Pikes Peak league matchup. But Air Academy was not about to let its winning streak and perfect league record go that easily.

As Discovery Canyon was forced to foul in the final minute, Air Academy hit seven free throws to earn a 46-37 win over the Thunder.

“We had a great opportunity today to play a great game and they did a great job handling that pressure,” Kama said. “Because of that their confidence goes way up tonight.”

Discovery Canyon’s Julia Carter hit a 3-pointer with 10.8 seconds left on the clock to bring DC within three and all but reversing the bad mojo from the Thunder’s 22-point loss to Air Academy in early January.

“I think they’ve always had a little bit of a mental block when it comes to Air Academy, and tonight I think they got over that,” Discovery Canyon coach Heath Kirkham said. “They just realized it was another basketball team and played with more confidence.”

Ashten Prechtel led the Thunder with 13 points, followed by Kristina Schneible with six and Abigail Gagnon with five. Air Academy was led by Katlyn Blacksten with 12 points thanks to four 3-pointers, followed by six-point performances by freshman Annie Louthan and junior Kayla Nocon. The Kadets made nine 3-pointers, including four straight in the third quarter.

The Kadets’ confidence continues to rise as its relatively young squad gets more experience and continues to exceed expectations.

“I don’t think we really expected this, but we are really proud of what these girls have done,” Kama said. “And because we didn’t expect this there’s not a lot of pressure to perform every night or be that leading scorer. I think it’s just created a huge team atmosphere for the girls and a lot of comaraderie and chemistry because of it.”

With 13 straight wins, Air Academy heads into its final six games of the regular season as the area 4A team to beat.

"It’s definitely difficult to have a target on your back, but I think we try to focus on each game, quarter and minute at a time, breaking it down,” Louthan said. “I think it’s pretty difficult to prepare for a team like ours. We don’t play perfect all the time, that’s for sure, but the fact that we have multiple people, everyone off the bench, everyone on the court plays well together and brings different talents.”