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Air Academy works past Palmer Ridge with variety of offensive weapons and stingy defense
MONUMENT • Air Academy knew it would have a big challenge breaking down Palmer Ridge’s 1-3-1 zone. While they were figuring it out, the Kadets’ own defense was holding down the fort.
Air Academy held Palmer Ridge to nine field goals, forced 30 turnovers and held the Bears to 17 points over the last three quarters, defeating Palmer Ridge 48-27 in a 4A Metro League battle of unbeatens at Palmer Ridge on Thursday.
In the league’s other matchup of unblemished records, Sand Creek topped Cheyenne Mountain 50-43 to keep pace with the Kadets.
Palmer Ridge led 10-9 after the first quarter, but Air Academy (14-2, 7-0) switched to man-to-man and trap defenses and swarmed the Bears (13-2, 5-1).
“If we have any designs on winning a league championship or anything further, it’s defense that going to take us there,” Kadets coach Bob Wingett said.
Air Academy started to make shots in the second quarter, with Erin Todd and Miranda Beal hitting 3-pointers during an 8-0 run that put the Kadets up 19-13 at the break.
After the half, Tori Reifschneider got hot. Reifschneider scored 12 of her game-high 13 points in the second half, scoring six points inside the paint during a 13-2 run in the third quarter.
“Tori is kind of the person that is our unsung hero most of the time,” Wingett said. “When she came in in the second half she found herself open under the basket quite a bit. Did a great job going to the basket.”
Reifschneider made all four of her baskets in the second half and scored the last six points for the Kadets.
“A 1-3-1 is a hard defense to break, especially if we aren’t making our shots,” Reifschneider said. “We knew we needed to find another way to score since we weren’t making our shots.”
Brittany Hernandez scored seven of her nine points in the second half after missing most of the second quarter because of foul trouble, and Kate Louthan added eight points for the Kadets.
With the Kadets able to score from outside early and inside late, Palmer Ridge coach Dennis Coates wasn’t sure what more his team could do.
“When you’ve got Hernandez down on the low block and you can put three shooters on the perimeter, good luck to any coach that can find a way,” Coates said.
Michelle DeCoud led the Bears with nine points, and Ali Meyer added seven. The Bears managed just three field goals and eight points spanning the second and third quarters.
“As we progressed on, they switched defenses on us,” Meyer said. “Our offense against a man defense isn’t so solid yet. We’re working on getting that fixed.”
Coates was thoroughly impressed by the Kadets.
“If there’s more weapons on a team in 4A,” Coates said, “I hope I don’t have to play them.”