HIGHLANDS RANCH - The game was probably closer than it should have been at halftime.
However, Valor Christian’s girls pulled away from Heritage in the second half and cruised to a 55-29 win last Saturday afternoon at the Valor Christian gym.
Valor Christian forced Heritage into 16 first half turnovers but make only 6-of-25 field goal attempts to grab a 17-12 halftime lead.
“Our defense was okay,” Valor Christian coach Sherryl Klosterman said. “Holding a team to 12 points at half, you should have a bigger lead. We shot better in the second half.”
Caroline Bryan, a 5-10 sophomore, hit Valor’s first three shots in the third quarter to spark an 18-1 run that pushed the home-standing Eagles to a 35-13 lead and put the game out of reach for the Continental League Eagles.
Valor wound up shooting 40 percent for the game but the real key was the pressing, trapping defense that forced Heritage into 31 turnovers.
“We pride ourselves on our press,” admitted Klosterman. “We play a zone press. We can go full court, half-court or three quarter-court with it and we change it up and mix it up.”
Heritage played without Mary Cavanaugh and Kira Hines-Ike who were sidelined and coach Ron McClurg noted that the turnovers crippled his team.
“They say the number is 14 so that (31) kept us way off,” he said. “The bad stretch in the third quarter hurt.
“We’re not fully comfortable attacking the basket. Sometimes that affects you too so that when your offense is struggling and you are turning it over, that’s kind of a tough combo.”
Heritage, which had played 18 hours earlier in an 86-71 loss to Mountain Vista, shot 32.1 percent for the game and were led Jenna Lowthian and Baily Cechini who each had seven points.
Kendall Bradbury, a 5-11 sophomore, paced Valor with 12 points and Bryan added 10 with eight coming in the second half.
“Bradbury is always tough but she’s going to draw double teams because she’s our leading scorer,” Klosterman said. “We got Caroline Bryan back with us. She’s only been playing about week and half. She missed the entire first part of the season with a stress fracture. She adds a lot to our team.”
Valor, a Class 4A school, improved its record to 7-11 but Klosterman hopes to gain a spot in the state tournament. MaxPreps has Valor ranked 20th among possible Class 4A tournament teams.
“I feel pretty good about our season,” said Klosterman whose team plays at Ponderosa Saturday. “Our wins and losses aren’t the same as what they were last year but our schedule as a whole is a whole lot more difficult.”
Heritage is 2-11 and has lost seven straight games. The Eagles had a Tuesday Continental League game against Legend. Heritage plays at Highlands Ranch Friday.