DENVER - Lutheran coach Mark Duitsman was curious to see how his girls would respond to a sluggish start in the Class 2A Region 4 championship game against Rangely on March 9.
The Lady Panthers jumped ahead 4-0 and led 10-4 with five minutes gone in the first quarter of the playoff game played at Mullen High School.
“We haven't had to dig out of many holes this season, and you could sense from the crowd there was a little bit of tension,” said Duitsman. “But with the girls it was just `stick with it and it will break open,' and it did.”
Boy did the game break open.
Unbeaten Lutheran routed Rangely, 73-43, to advance to the Class 2A state quarterfinals in Pueblo.
The Lions went on an 11-2 run to end the first quarter and outscored Rangley 22-4 in the last 6:18 of the second stanza to grab a 40-21 halftime lead. The Lions forced nine turnovers during the second-quarter surge.
Lutheran led by 40 points at 73-33 and didn't score the final 6:11 of the game but still won by 30 points.
Jennifer Vigil led Lutheran with 18 points, Kassidy Kyle had 15 points, Whitney Dettmering 11 and Jessica Farra 10 for the Lions, who scored 70 or more points for the seventh straight game.
Lutheran were champions of the Class 3A/2A Metro League and have an average winning margin of 33.3 points this season.
“We've played a lot of good teams being in the Metro League so I don't think that will hurt us goo much,” Kyle said. “We just come out and play hard every game so it really doesn't matter who we are playing.
“I think we're playing as good as we can be. Everyone is finally starting to hit their rhythm and their shots so we're at our best right now.”
Lutheran, state runners-up to Akron last season, was scheduled to put its 23-0 record on the line against Simla (20-4) at 5:30 p.m. March 14 at CSU-Pueblo.
“There is always concern that you've peaked too early, but I really don't feel that we have,” Duitsman said. “I feel like our best basketball is ahead of us. Our girls are looking forward to the big stage, they usually play better on the big stage.”
Lutheran's boys team downed Ignacio 52-46 to win the Region 8 championship March 9 in Durango.
The Lions (18-5) were scheduled to play Limon (22-1) in a 4 p.m. quarterfinal game on March 14.