Savannah Burris, at left, flies past a Vail Christian defender during Friday’s regional game. The Lady Dragons won 52-35. — Photo by Jessica Cumming

Girls make state after regional upset

    There were tears of joy when the Lady Dragon varsity basketball team celebrated not only a regional championship but also a state-qualifying win Saturday, March 3.
    No. 11 Holyoke upset No. 6 Del Norte on the Tigers’ home court with a big 54-43 win. It followed Friday night’s 52-35 victory over Vail Christian.
    An appearance at the state tournament this year breaks a seven-year drought for the Lady Dragons, who haven’t been on the state court since 2011.
    “It was pure excitement, pure joy,” said second-year coach John Baumgartner.
    He is proud of what the Lady Dragons have done with the program in the last two years. “They have worked extremely hard to get here,” he said. “It’s a credit to these kids. Hard work pays off.”
    Even though it was a long bus trip to Del Norte last weekend, Baumgartner said the girls treated it like a business trip and got business done. “‘Family’ has been our motto. We rose as one,” he said, quoting the team T-shirts.
    The coach said throughout the season the athletes have adapted well to new roles and have risen to the challenge.
    Now it’s time to refocus, he said, as the Lady Dragons prepare for the state tournament Thursday-Saturday, March 8-10, at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland.
Holyoke 54, Del Norte 43
    Most teams would have been intimidated to play in front of a large crowd in the Del Norte Tigers’ home gym, but the Holyoke Lady Dragons had some support of their own. “Our crowd was loud too,” said coach Baumgartner.
    The green and gold fans didn’t give up on the Lady Dragons, who quickly fell behind in the first quarter of Saturday’s championship game. They trailed the Tigers 8-12 at the end of the first period.
    As Baumgartner put it, “We weathered the storm.”
    Holyoke girls kept pushing hard in the second quarter. Their 16 points — including nine by senior Grace Dille — outscored Del Norte’s 14 to bring it to a two-point game at halftime. The Dragons were behind 24-26.
    The game hit a turning point in the third quarter. “We made shots when we had to in the second half,” said Baumgartner, noting the girls’ confidence really started to rise when they hit some big shots.
    Taeryn Trumper’s six 2-pointers accounted for 12 of the team’s 14 points in the third period.

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