Too timid

Too timid

Cotopaxi falls to high-powered South Baca, 60-25

Cotopaxi High School girls basketball coach Troy Thornton made sure he scheduled a top-caliber nonleague opponent this season in South Baca to better prepare the Pirates for the postseason.

Unfortunately, the Patriots showed the Pirates that they still have work left to do to be a state-playoff team. Ranked No. 5 in Class 1A, South Baca pulled away late in the first quarter and cruised to a 60-25 victory in a game played at Swink High School on Saturday.

The loss drops Cotopaxi to 6-2 overall and 1-0 in District 6 play, while South Baca improves to 6-1 and 0-0.

“We don’t play enough good teams,” said Thornton, whose team beat Cripple Creek 71-6 on Thursday. “That’s why I scheduled this game. Our girls need to see good teams and they have to step up against good teams.”

South Baca certainly showed Cotopaxi what state-playoff basketball looks like. The Patriots, a collection of players from schools in Campo, Vilas and Pritchett in Southeastern Colorado, demonstrated sound fundamentals and a stifling defense. The team finished fifth in the state last year and didn’t lose any players to graduation.

“Our fundamentals weren’t there,” Thornton said. “We didn’t work to get open, and they play great defense. We didn’t try to score; we were timid because they are a good team.

“I don’t know if it’s that we are afraid to make mistakes. I told the girls after the game, you can’t be afraid to make a mistake. I would rather you hustle and turn the ball over than be scared and hold yourself back. That’s what we did tonight.”

South Baca started the game hitting two of its eight three-pointers to go up 6-0. A couple of layups by Cotopaxi senior Claire Carlson and a three-point play by junior Koylynn Gulliford cut the deficit to 10-7 with 1:57 left in the first quarter.

The Patriots, though, went on a 10-0 run and led 29-13 at intermission. South Baca put the game away, scoring the first nine points of the third quarter.

“I was hard on the girls tonight,” Thornton said. “We quit a little bit because it was hard. They have to find it within themselves to push. Just because a team is good doesn’t mean you roll over and die. That’s why I’m trying to schedule tougher teams.”

South Baca coach Tom Jacobs said the team’s strategy was to defend Gulliford.

“We fronted her and brought help from the back side,” Jacobs said. “The girls were worried. I said, ‘Why are you worried? We do it in practice every day; we help the helper. That’s a drill we do a lot in practice.

“I watched them at regionals last year and I knew their big girl could take a game over if you let her. She’s one of the top players in the state.”

Jacobs, who used to coach at Springfield, began coaching several members of his current team as fifth-graders, including senior standouts Patience Crane and Delaney Eskew. They played about 25 games each year in pre-high school tournaments in Southeastern Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas.

“That’s a lot of the cohesiveness that they’ve developed,” Jacobs said. “They work at it. You can’t overstate that fact when my best player is my hardest working player, everybody else falls in line.”

South Baca had five players score 7 or more points, including a game-high 13 from Crane.

Carlson led the Pirates with 10 points. Gulliford added 9.

Cotopaxi is back in action on Tuesday when it travels to Mountain Valley High School to take on Creede.