Lady Bears shoot lights out

Bobby Abplanalp/Cortez Journal

Danika Evensen, left, and Brianna Schwartz battle for a loose ball Dec. 19, at Dolores. Schwartz and the Lady Bears won the rivalry game over Mancos for the eighth straight time.

By Bobby Abplanalp Journal staff writer

It was one of those night's for Dolores' Lexi Atkinson.

The senior shooting guard couldn't miss, as she chased history.

Atkinson's 3-point barrage turned a competitive home game with Mancos into a blowout last Wednesday night.

The Dolores High School girls single game scoring record is 34 points. Like her former teammate Katlynn McGee last year, Atkinson made seven 3s and finished with 33 points, as she came up just short of history. But it was a night to remember nonetheless, as the Lady Bears beat Mancos for the eighth straight time, 74-43.

"I felt honored that they gave me the ball towards the end, because they wanted me to get that record," Atkinson said. "We were playing as a team and they allowed that. I wish I could have got it for them."

Dolores (5-2, 2-1 2A San Juan Basin League) won its fifth straight under interim coach Tim Kercher. The Lady Bears appear to be getting better each game.

"Every game, it's really nice watching the team grow and come together," Atkinson said. "We're out there and we play with one heartbeat. That is our motto."

Mancos (1-6, 0-2 2A SJBL) took a step forward and welcomed back center Andie Paschal from injury. The Lady Bluejays only trailed by nine at the half and came within seven points at 35-28 early in the third quarter. But that's when Atkinson went off and away the Lady Bears went.

A 22-0 Dolores run ensued behind Atkinson and senior center Sam Tate. Cydney McHenry was huge on the defensive end and padded her stats with easy fast break layups with steal after steal after steal.

"We wanted to come out (after halftime) and make sure they didn't make it a game," Kercher said. "They're our rivals and they play tough. We wanted to go out and stop them, stop any momentum."

Paschal stopped the run, scoring inside. But it was all Dolores, up 57-30 going into the fourth quarter.

Megan Hess and Paschal were strong down low in the final frame for Mancos. The Lady Bluejays were only out-scored 17-13 in the fourth.

"We're just expanding the way we play. We played a zone for the first time in awhile. That was a good experiment for us," Mancos coach Josh Kitchen said. "I feel like effort wise, it was all there. The girls are playing their hearts out. Credit to Dolores tonight. They hit the 3s. Tonight, they were hot. It's a powerful weapon when you can hit it."

The explosive third quarter for the Lady Bears essentially won the game.

"They're coming together," Kercher said. "I think they're really establishing a defensive identity. They're hustling out there, they're playing together, which is what I love to see. We've got a lot of growth to do, but I like where we're at right now."

In addition to Atkinson's 33, McHenry scored 21. Brianna Schwartz and Tate recorded 11 and nine points apiece.

"Last year, we'd come out in the third quarter and we wouldn't do so hot," Atkinson said. "This year, we are killing it in the third quarter. It's just awesome. We're really playing as a team together."

Paschal totaled a team high 14 points for Mancos, who played its last game of 2012.

"I felt pretty out of shape, but I think I'm getting in better shape," said Paschal about her return to the basketball court. "I think a few times out there, we were working well together and starting to gel as a team. It's different having a new coach, but I like it so far."

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