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Doherty girls clobber Pine Creek, rolling under new coach McKiernan
Pat McKiernan knew the Doherty girls' basketball team had a chance to be special this season. That’s a big reason why he stuck around.
So far, it's working out exactly as he'd hoped.
Behind a stifling defense and 15 straight points in the third quarter, the Spartans trounced a rebuilding Pine Creek team 63-36 at home on Tuesday.
“It’s all about talent,” McKiernan said. “We have seven seniors on this team. I could literally just sit back and let them go. There’s not a whole lot of coaching going on.”
Of course, McKiernan knows that’s not true. If this team didn’t need his help, he would have followed last year’s coach J’on St. Clair – McKiernan’s brother-in-law – to the Cheyenne Mountain boys’ sideline to continue a coaching partnership that stretched back seven years. Instead, McKiernan opted to step up from assistant to head coach for Doherty to provide a sense of stability to a program that is on its third coach in as many seasons.
“As good as they are, I couldn’t do that to them,” McKiernan said.
By letting his intensity bleed over into the team’s approach, McKiernan has the Spartans (10-1, 1-0 5A Metro) rolling on the defensive end. They had 10 steals in the first quarter against Pine Creek and five more during the third-quarter spurt that removed any doubt from the contest.
“The intensity they bring to their defense is tremendous,” Pine Creek coach Kelley Stewart. “I mean, they just never stop. They go after everything. And their height and how long they are, it’s tough to get over.”
Meagan Kramer and Audra Romero each scored nine to pace the Eagles (3-8, 0-1), who lost nine of their top 10 players from a year ago.
Doherty was led by 21 from guard Angela Vigil and 12 from center Danielle Santos.
With each game, Doherty’s confidence is growing. The league race will undoubtedly come down to the Spartans and Palmer, which will add a pair of transfers this week.
But the Spartans have goals that stretch beyond the city limits.
“We’re trying to win it all,” Vigil said. “I think we could, too.”
Wouldn’t that be the ultimate prize for a coach who decided to stick with the program. Of course, wherever the season leads, he knows he made the right call.
“I’m loving this,” McKiernan said. “I love the school. I love the kids. We’ve got great crowds for girls games – you don’t see that. The band is out here, the AD is awesome, the facilities… No place I’d rather be.”