The Pueblo West View

West girls work through growing pains

There’s a lot of learning to do.

After the Pueblo West High School girls basketball team got worked over fairly well by Doherty in the Cyclones’ own gym Friday, coach Gil Lucero talked to his girls about the little things that make the difference between winning and losing at the varsity level.

Most of these girls, after all, are playing varsity-level basketball for the first time. And many of them committed just enough little mistakes to help Doherty cruise, 39-22, Friday at Jerry Kersey Gymnasium.

“It just came down to not being in the right spots,” Lucero said.

West’s girls had flashes of good things Friday, with Bri Rodriguez hitting some big shots and some younger front-court players making good plays at times. But Doherty applied a lot of full-court pressure, and the Cyclones didn’t execute their press-break very well, nor did they run their half-court offense smoothly.

West was playing without star junior guard Haley Simental, who was off to a camp in Denver, and that certainly didn’t help with things such as press-break. But Lucero said the Cyclones have beaten Doherty without Simental before. The Cyclones just had an off day.

Rodriguez scored on an offensive rebound and then drained a 3-pointer to get West within 3 at 12-9 in the first half, and sophomore Jallisa Peterson hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the first half to get West within 7 at 19-12 at halftime.

But Doherty scored the first 6 points of the second half, and West never got within single digits again.

“Bri continues to do pretty well. Shannon Sanchez and Olivia Leyva did some nice things,” Lucero said.

Among the other bright spots for the Cyclones was the presence of senior Claire Fort, who hadn’t yet played for the Cyclones this summer. Fort, an excellent soccer player, said she had been debating whether she was going to play basketball or club soccer this summer. She said persistent text messages from her basketball teammates and Lucero convinced her to get back on the basketball court.

“I missed it,” Fort said.

Fort played significant varsity minutes last season and made her first varsity start, so her return to the court — and her intent to be there when the real season opens in December — means a lot to the team.

“It’s a real nice addition. She picks our team up defensively, because she’s a great athlete. I anticipate her being a starter if she keeps working,” Lucero said.

Fort’s return wasn’t enough to prevent a rough day Friday for the Cyclones, who also lost to Trinidad and beat Elizabeth before looking and playing like a young team against Doherty.

Lucero said the team was in a little funk.

There just might be days like this for a while for West, which also has played very well at times this summer. West went 6-1 in a team camp at Colorado State University-Pueblo last week, losing in the championship game to rival Pueblo South.

All-star crew

While a bunch of new varsity frontcourt players were working out the kinks on the court Friday, the scoreboard was being run by the girls they are trying to replace.

Graduated seniors Taylor Leyva and Daisy Romero were working the scorer’s table during the tournament.

Romero and Leyva led Pueblo West to the Final 4 in March and helped the Cyclones win a share of their first-ever South-Central League championship.

Leyva said she’s excited to head to Arizona in a few weeks to play Division I college basketball for Northern Arizona University.

Romero will be headed to Trinidad State to play basketball, and she will share a room with former Pueblo Central star Kori Eurich.

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The Pueblo West View