High Octane Offense


High-scoring Vista Ridge girls basketball team out shoots Lake Travis

High-scoring Vista Ridge girls basketball team outshoots Lake Travis

Lake Travis guard Kristen Kleymeyer is blocked by a Vista Ridge defender and goes to the free throw line during the girls varsity conference game between Lake Travis Cavaliers and the Vista Ridge Rangers at Lake Travis High School on Tuesday evening January 17, 2017. JOHN GUTIERREZ / FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN

  • STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Cavs’ Aspen Howie, Vista Ridge’s Nikki Cardano-Hillary put up big numbers in contest

Getting back in transition: That was the one thing Vista Ridge girls basketball coach Keith Allen stressed to his team in its game at Lake Travis on Jan. 17.

And that’s exactly what the Rangers did — at least in the second half — to pull away from Lake Travis (15-13, 2-5 District 25-6A) and capture an 87-64 victory that kept them within striking distance of a district title.

Vista Ridge’s senior guard Nikki Cardano-Hillary scored a game-high 35 points as the Rangers matched their highest offensive output of the season.

“We shot the ball pretty well tonight,” said Allen. “Lake Travis allowed us to play at a fast pace, and we were able to get a lot of shots off because of that. Credit to Lake Travis for shooting the ball very well. It was a great game.”

Vista Ridge (22-5, 6-1) remains in second place in the District 25-6A standings with the victory, trailing only Vandegrift (18-10, 7-0), which beat the Rangers on Jan. 10. Vista Ridge has been challenged seemingly every night during the district schedule after making the jump from 5A to 6A, prompting Allen to say “every game is a dog fight, and any team is capable of beating any other team on any given night.”

That sentiment rang true in the Lake Travis game, which was closer than the final score suggests — especially early on, as the Cavaliers went shot-for-shot with Vista Ridge’s potent offense and drew the enthusiasm of a large crowd that glowed at the prospect of an upset. It was a fast-paced game from start to finish, and the Cavaliers solid transition game kept them in the hunt in the early going. The Cavs trailed just 24-19 after the first quarter.

“They were killing us in transition early in the game,” admitted Allen. “They were finding a lot of open shooters.”

As the night wore on, however, Vista Ridge began to separate by focusing on getting back on defense and shutting down the Cavaliers’ transition game. The strategy worked perfectly for Allen’s squad. Vista Ridge extended its lead to 48-38 by halftime and only increased its advantage from that point forward.

“I’m proud of the way we played in the second half,” said Allen. “That’s the team we want to see out on the court every quarter of every night.”

Lake Travis senior guard Aspen Howie scored a team-high 26 points.

In addition to Cardano-Hillary’s 35 points, senior forward Katie McKee added 19 and sophomore guard Marley Groat scored 11 for Vista Ridge.

Vista Ridge will be favored in at least all but one of its five games over the last two-plus weeks of the regular season. The Rangers may only be the underdog when they host Vandegrift on Feb. 3.

“Sometimes last year, it felt like we weren’t challenged in the district,” said Allen . “That’s definitely not the case this year, and that will help us down the road. At this point, we’re just focusing on improving every day.”

 

 

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