LEVELLAND — Denver City girls basketball coach Kody Brown learned from experience earlier this year that he just couldn’t let Slaton get out to a big lead early.
So in trying to stop the Tigerettes’ early momentum and deal with their press, the Fillies’ head coach called two timeouts in the first five minutes of Tuesday’s Class 2A bi-district game at the Levelland Gym. But to no avail.
Slaton (24-10) kept the pressure up and Denver City had no answer as the Tigerettes raced to a 57-43 victory to advance to the area round where they will face Canadian on Friday at a time and site to be determined.
“I thought (the press) was the one bright spot of the night because we weren’t very smooth offensively,” Slaton coach Staci Denton said. “(Defense) bailed us out. We’ve got to get that lined up if we plan on getting competitive with Canadian. We preach defense all year because we’re a little undersized. But I’m proud of the girls and it’s an opportunity for us to get to the next round.”
Denver City (12-14) scored the first two buckets of the game and looked much better prepared for the rematch of a 57-38 Slaton win in December in which the Fillies trailed 17-0. Eventually, however, the Tigerettes began getting turnovers out of its full-court press.
That led to a 12-2 first quarter run, fueled by seven points from sophomore point guard Karli McCord, that resulted in a 16-9 lead at the end of the first quarter. Slaton then scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to build a 24-10 advantage.
“We hit our first two shots and then we struggled,” Brown said. “That’s kind of been our struggle all year. We get stops but then we miss some easy shots. We have shooters and scorers, but sometimes they just don’t go in. But we got after it and played hard.”
Slaton, meanwhile, had more scoring options, especially down low. None of them were more effective than sophomore forward Taliea Maxwell.
After Slaton built its 14-point lead, the Tigerettes continually fed her in the paint, and Denver City had no answer for her short turnaround jumpers. She scored nine of her 17 points in the final 41/2 minutes of the second quarter, helping Slaton keep Denver City at bay and forging a 35-23 halftime lead.
Freshman Aurora Luera then took over to star the third quarter and had six of her 14 points in the period as the Tigerettes continually seemed to come up with baskets or make key stops when it seemed Denver City was about to get back into the game.
“We just were a little excited at first running around everywhere and kind of forgot we had an inside game,” Denton said. “It was nice to find here and get some really easy buckets, and then Luera came in and hit some tough shots on the backside, too.”
The Fillies never trailed by fewer than 11 points after building the initial double-digit lead. Jennifer DelaRosa led Denver City with 11 points.
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CLASS 2A BI-DISTRICT PLAYOFF
at Levelland HS
SLATON 57, DENVER CITY 43
SLATON — Ka. McCord 2 3-4 8, Heinrich 0 2-2 2, Briseno 2 0-0 4, Pate 1 1-2 4, Hastings 1 2-4 4, Luera 6 2-5 14, Maxwell 8 1-1 17, Rodriguez 0 0-0 0, Green 1 2-2 4, Rose 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 13-21 57.
DENVER CITY — K. DelaRosa 1 4-4 6, J. DelaRosa 3 4-8 11, Barrientes 1 1-2 3, A. DelaRosa 1 0-0 2, Stephens 2 1-2 5, Jividen 0 2-2 2, Zangerman 1 0-0 2, David 1 3-4 5, Roblez 1 0-1 2, Dial 2 0-0 5. Totals 13 15-19 43.
Slaton 16 19 10 12 — 57
Denver City 9 14 9 11 — 43
3-point goals: Slaton 2 (Ka. McCord, Pate); Denver City 2 (J. DelaRosa, Dial). Total fouls: Slaton 19, Denver City 15. Fouled out: none. Technical fouls: none. Records: Slaton 24-10; Denver City 12-14.