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Girls basketball: Monarch's 1st league loss since 2022 comes with optimism

Jan. 26—THORNTON — Monarch senior Reese Trobaugh was high on her team Friday night, even in the moments following her team's 61-57 loss at Class 6A top-10 Horizon.

The Coyotes, who lost quite a bit from last season's run to the finals, had just gone into a hostile environment, worked themselves back from double-digit deficits on both sides of halftime, only to come up short. The loss, of course, was met with palpable disappointment and frustration. Clarity, too.

"I feel like now, especially after this game, we're going to be good," Trobaugh said. "Teams should watch out for us because we're just getting better and better."

Freshman Sienna Williams scored 18 points, senior veterans Trobaugh and Hayley Luther were each instrumental in getting their team out of big holes, finishing with 12 and 11, but Monarch didn't have quite enough to upset the eighth-ranked team in the 6A Coaches and Media Poll.

"We got some young kids but we also got some seniors who play some pretty good basketball for us," Monarch coach Mike Blakely said. "What we're still learning is how to play together." Adding, the more they put it together, the more dangerous they'll be in March.

"That's where we really want to be, is going and winning playoff games," Blakely went on. "This one felt like a playoff game and I would have liked to win it. But if I can trade it in for a win in March somewhere, I'll take that instead."

If anything, this loss proved the Coyotes have the kind of resiliency needed for another deep postseason run. Before their run to the finals last season, eventually falling to UCLA commit Sienna Betts and Grandview, they'd reached the quarterfinals in 2022.

In front of a packed gym, they trailed 15-2 before fighting all the way back — led by Trobaugh's 3-ball — grabbing their first lead of the night on Luther's bucket with 2:17 left in the half.

After the break, they trimmed an 11-point deficit in the third to two midway through the fourth. Savannah Weiss got all 13 of her points in the second half, and 11 in the final frame, hitting from deep to make it 51-49 with 4:14 to go.

Down 61-52 with less than two minutes remaining, Monarch held the Hawks scoreless down the stretch as it made one last run. The Coyotes got a 3 from Luther, then a tough bucket under the hoop from Williams, but missed its final two shots.

"It just shows how if someone misses a shot, or something happens to one of us, we will go and pick each other up. We always have each other's back," Luther said. "No matter what the score is, I feel like this team can really accomplish anything when we play together."

The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for Monarch (7-7, 5-1 6A Front Range League), and ended a run of 26 consecutive FRL wins dating back to Jan. 25, 2022.

The Hawks (14-2, 7-0), winners of seven straight, now have the lead to themselves in the FRL standings with three weeks left in the regular season.

Monarch is home against Broomfield (12-4, 4-3) Tuesday. Horizon is at Fossil Ridge (8-7, 4-3) Feb. 2.