Lutheran junior Haley Shaklee blossoms

Player leads Class 3A in three-pointers this season

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Lutheran junior Haley Shaklee has always been a post player, staying near the lane on the basketball floor to score and rebound.

This season, however, she has settled into a different role as a shooting guard.

She leads Class 3A in three-point shooting this season, making 62 three-pointers in 16 games for an average of 3.9 per game.

Shaklee made four three-pointers and finished with 16 points in the Lions’ 66-38 2A/3A Metro League victory over Kent Denver on Feb. 8 in the Sun Devils gym.

“Haley Shaklee is having an incredible year,” said Lutheran coach Mark Duitsman. “She is one of the top three-point shooters in the state in all classes right now. She never played guard before this season.”

Dutisman has 5-foot-11 senior Shelble Sperle, 5-10 senior Natalia Waldon and 6-1 freshman Katie Murphy as post players, so the 5-10 Shaklee is scoring from a little farther outside this season.

“It was a pretty easy adjustment,” admitted Shaklee. “I’ve always liked playing guard and they put me at guard because we have a 6-1 girl and Shelble being there.”

Extra time in the gym helped Shaklee develop her three-point shot.

“It took a lot of time in the gym trying to get my shot and range and stuff like that,” said Shaklee. “My dad helped me, coach D helped me a lot, my summer coach helped me, the girls helped me and just a lot of practice helped. I feel pretty confident with my shot.”

Against the Sun Devils, Shaklee took care of the perimeter scoring while Sperle, Waldon and Murphy dominated inside as the three post players combined for 29 points, making 12 of 16 field goal attempts.

Sperle finished with 14 points. Waldon was 5-for-5 and scored 11 points and Murphy had four.

“The fact that Haley is taking those shots, and now we are getting more contributions from Abigail (Justus) and Kate Webster, and we’re getting some inside scoring and that opens everything,” said Duitsman. “Defensively, we have to get some things figured out.”

Lutheran shot 51 percent from the field against Kent Denver, and Shaklee showed she can still handle herself inside as she pulled down a team-high eight rebounds along with Waldon. Sperle had seven rebounds.

Sophomore Kate Webster had nine assists during the game.

The win for the defending Class 3A state champions Lions improved their record to 10-6 overall and 6-1 in the league.

“This season has been one where we knew it was going to be an uphill climb for us and we’ve played the toughest non-league schedule we’ve ever had,” said Duitsman, who was named the 2016 Colorado girls basketball Coach of Year for all classes by the National Federation of High Schools.

“It’s paying off now that we’ve hit league play where there’s nothing we haven’t seen yet already this season. It’s showing up in our half court execution.”

The nine teams the Lions have played in their non-league schedule have compiled a 100-55 record. And Lutheran has one more non-conference game set for the regular season finale Feb. 17 at unbeaten Sterling.

“Sometimes people think we lost so much from last year because we lost five seniors and four starters,” said Shaklee. “So yeah, sometimes people underestimate us but we like the challenge. We’re getting a lot better. At the beginning it was kind of a struggle to figure out how we connect as a team, but we’re doing pretty good now.”

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