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For the first three minutes of the Horizon girls’ basketball game against rival Mountain Range on Tuesday, Jan. 30, the Hawks looked like an average basketball team.
After that, however, they reverted to their superhuman ways and coasted to another easy win to extend their winning streak to 10 games.
The Mustangs of Mountain Range started the game with a lot of excitement and jumped out to an early 5-0 lead. It was the team’s biggest lead, as they looked shell shocked by the Hawks’ smothering defense and efficient offense. Horizon went on a 16-2 run over the next few minutes.
The lead only grew from there, ultimately winning the game by 35 points, 79-44. In Horizon’s win streak, the Hawks’ average margin of victory has been 35 points, while every one of its wins this season have come by double digits. The team’s one loss came in the NIKE Tournament of Champions in Phoenix to Granada Hills Charter School, by just six points.
Horizon Head Coach Dan Doehler said the team has to forget the history of the streak and simply remain focused on its upcoming opponent, or perspective could be lost.
“We’re always looking one game at a time,” Doehler said. “We are at Loveland next and that’s where our focus is now. The biggest thing is we practice harder than the games. We practice against the boys sometimes. After all of our work in practice, the game pales in comparison.”
The way Horizon has won its games this season, including the win over Mountain Range, has been a relentlessly attacking defense, using full-court press and half-court traps throughout the game. This resulted in turnover after turnover from Mountain Range, including 17 steals by Horizon. Additionally, the Hawks attacked the glass on both sides of the ball, coming up with 48 total rebounds, including 25 on on the offensive glass.
“On defense, we’re long, active and we’re always communicating,” Doehler said. “We have a full-court press to take advantage of our length and we try to confuse the other team on whether we’re playing zone or man. Our players have maximum effort on every possession, and good defense turns into good offense and transition buckets.”
Junior forward Arielle Wisne came up just a few statistics short of a triple double, totaling nine points, eight rebounds and nine blocks on the night.
“Arielle is 6-5 in the middle and bothers a lot of players there,” Doehler said. “She almost had a triple double tonight. She had a hell of a game.”
Wisne was helped by junior Aly Jimenez, who led the team with 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists; senior Izzy Allen, who had 16 points and seven steals; and junior Sam Deem, who had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Allen, in particular, seemed to be everywhere on both sides of the ball, picking up nearly double-digit steals, facilitating the scoring of her teammates and scoring 16 points of her own. Doehler says the team follows Allen’s competitive example and leadership.
“We’re not where we are right now without Izzy Allen,” he said. “She’s simply the best athlete in the state. No one can stop her on the dribble or the pass. Her first step is so quick. It’s a hard combo to stop.”
Horizon held Mountain Range’s leading scorer Lillian West to just nine points on the night, dropping the Mustangs’ third straight loss and five of its last seven. However, after losing to Horizon on Dec. 5 at home, the Mustangs went on a season-high 5-game winning streak.
Even with blowout win after blowout win and only one blemish on an otherwise perfect season, Doehler says the team hasn’t reached its potential yet and there are still a lot of mistakes to correct, pointing specifically to the 15 turnovers the Hawks committed against Mountain Range.
“We’re not perfect right now,” he said. “The 15 turnovers is uncharacteristic of our team. I’m OK with them playing fast, and there will be some turnovers that will come because of that. But we want to stay around the 8-12 turnover range. We’re still a work in progress.”
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