Highlands Ranch remains at the top of the Continental League following their decisive 67-24 victory against Ponderosa Tuesday night.
The Falcons 15-4 (7-0) controlled the pace of the game from start to finish. Although their offensive output was superb, their defense stood out the most. The Mustangs 15-6 (5-3) were frustrated on the offensive side of the ball as they were held to just one point in the second and fourth quarters combined.
Defensively, Ponderosa ran a tight zone, but the quickness and ability to spread the ball to multiple shooters provided Highlands Ranch numerous opportunities to find the bottom of the net. And they did.
The Falcons looked automatic on the court. Difficult shots went in with ease; open looks were no-brainers. Highlands Ranch averaged 21.5 points per quarter through the first three frames. The Mustangs couldn’t catch a break offensively, scoring all 24 points by the end of the third.
Highlands Ranch is a revamped team after losing four key players after last year. However, this didn’t seem to be the case for Coach Jarocki and her squad. Comparatively, their offense looks a bit quicker than last year – junior guard Payton Muma is a score-first player but doesn’t let that get in the way of finding open teammates.
Taylor Ray, sophomore forward, looks much improved from last year. Ray has a small frame, but is tall and plays with heart. Tuesday night, Ray showed her ability to not only be a threat inside on both ends of the court, but can knock it down from range, draining two three-pointers in the first quarter.
Ponderosa was outmatched, but the pieces are there. Highlands Ranch is a tough opponent for anyone. The Mustangs showed strong discipline in sticking to their game plans and have a great feel for where everyone is on the court. Ponderosa has many options for scoring; combined with their discipline and court awareness, their record speaks for itself as a strong contender come playoff time.
The Mustangs had a tough outing, but shouldn’t hang their heads. This team is led by seniors Carolyn Ho and Katerine Higgins and will not go down without a fight. Higgins finished the night with a team-high 10-points and was disruptive in the paint. Some foul trouble forced her to back off, but it is evident she is the enforcer for the Mustangs. The remainder of the Ponderosa team is built for the next few years as they have seven players all primed to make a return next winter.
Payton Muma is the clear undisputed leader of this team. Muma controls the pace of the game, runs an up-tempo offense, and isn’t afraid to put the ball in the air if a pass cannot be made. Muma finished the night with a game-high 24-points and could be found around the ball at any given time. Sophomore Taylor Ray is a budding star in the state of Colorado. Ray plays with an effortless intensity around the rim and has the ability to score anywhere on the court. Ray ended her night with 16-points and was leading all scorers at halftime with 14-points.