Elizabeth girls won one of the three games they played at the Jeffco Jungle Jam Basketball Tournament on Dec. 5-8. The first two games were played at Littleton High School and the final game was …
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Elizabeth girls won one of the three games they played at the Jeffco Jungle Jam Basketball Tournament on Dec. 5-8. The first two games were played at Littleton High School and the final game was played at D'Evelyn High School.
“We had a pretty good tournament overall,” Cardinals coach Jaime Schmalz said during the tournament. “We are playing good basketball at times.”
The Cardinals opened season play in the tournament against Summit on Dec. 5. Elizabeth moved ahead early but the Tigers came back with a second-half rally to win a squeaker, 41-28.
Elizabeth regrouped and had the best game on offense of the tournament as they rolled to a 62-32 win over Regis Groff on Dec. 7.
In the game against the Fusion the Cardinals played aggressive defense that forced turnovers and pushed the ball up the court quickly when they had possession. The team also was hitting shots a good percentage of outside shots.
Elizabeth established a 27-16 halftime advantage and built on the lead for the final two quarters.
The final game of Elizabeth's three tournament games matched the Cardinals against Resurrection Christian on Dec. 8.
The Cougars built an 11-7 edge by the end of the first quarter. Elizabeth put points on the board but so did Resurrection Christian, and the result was that the Cougars won the game, 41-28.
In an interview earlier this season, Schmalz said the Cardinals would basically be a young team even though there are three returning seniors on the roster.
In the Cardinal statistics posted for the first two games, two of the three scoring leaders are seniors.
Senior Ella Benkendorf led the team in scoring with a total of 27 points. She also was the leading rebounder with 34.
Teammate Shelby Gardner scored 21 points in two games and hauled down 12 rebounds. She also was the team leader in steals with 15. Senior Sarah Geislinger scored 12 points for the Cardinals in the first two games of the season.
Benkendorf said the season is going pretty well for her and for the team.
“This is a whole new team because I am the only returning varsity starter,” she said. “But I feel this is a good team. We are playing pretty well and we know we still have thing to work on to get better.”
The senior is the tallest girl on the team and at 6-1 plays the post position.
“I like the playing the post position,” she said. “I think it is fun position on both offense and defense.”
She said she likes playing defense best.
“I think we talk to each other more when we are playing defense,” the senior said. “When we talk I think that helps us to work better as a team.”
Benkendorf is a three-sport athlete. She runs cross county, plays basketball and runs track.
“Track is my favorite sport and basketball is number two,” she said. “I like basketball because it is a fun way to transition from cross country to track.”
She said she also likes basketball because it takes both individual and team effort. She said it takes everyone playing well individually plus playing together as a team to win games.
“Track and cross country are also both team and individual sports,” she said. “You want to do the best you can for your team while also pushing to get the best possible individual finish.”
She said the 800-meter run is her favorite track event.
“The 800 is not a sprint and not a long-distance race,” she said. “A lot of running the 800 is a mental challenge. You need to know how to set a solid pace, you need to know it is all right to run with the pack of leaders as long as you know when you need to kick in the sprint to the finish. It is a great event, it is a lot of fun and that is why it is my favorite event.”
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