WOODLAND PARK - The Woodland Park High School boys and girls basketball teams came up short last week, dropping all of its Class 4A Metro League games.
The Panthers boys lost to Harrison (70-32 on Feb. 5) and Sierra (48-17 on Feb. 7) to fall to 2-8 in league, 6-13 overall.
Woodland Park's girls lost to Harrison (34-27) and Sierra (75-39) and are now 2-8 in league, 3-16 overall.
“Defensively, we played pretty awesome against Harrison,” said Woodland Park girls coach David Graf. “We've been breaking the full court press a lot better. We've been rebounding well.
“Our biggest thing is that we don't have people who can handle the ball really well.”
Elin Saxon paced Woodland Park in scoring in both games, tallying six against Harrison and 12 against Sierra. Saxon has been the team's most consistent scorer this season, averaging about eight points per game. She has hit double figures six times. She also leads the club in rebounds with about six per game.
Hannah Erickson is next in scoring at about seven points per game. She's second in rebounds with about five, including a high of 17 against Vista Ridge.
The top five teams in league earn automatic postseason berths. The Panthers girls need to win at least three of their remaining four games against Widefield, Mesa Ridge, Mitchell and Coronado to have a chance of cracking the top five. That's a daunting task considering since they lost to all those teams the first go-around. Both of Woodland Park's league victories are against Wasson (2-16, 0-10).
Graf will lose eight of his 14 varsity players to graduation after this season. He knows that in order for the girls to be more competitive in the future they must make a bigger offseason commitment.
“Hopefully the girls are committed in the summer and keep working hard,” Graf said.
The Panthers boys have struggled since playing their best all-around game of the season at Coronado on Jan. 31 (a 54-48 loss). In the three games since, Woodland Park has lost by an average score of 63-31.
“We're trying to score,” said first-year Woodland Park coach Joel Herman. “We shoot a lot of balls. We just don't get a lot of baskets.”
The Panthers were unable to crack double figures in any quarter against Sierra, scoring just six points in the first half. The only Woodland Park players to score were seniors Jacob Censner and Evan Lays.
“Sierra played a phenomenal man-to-man defense and we could not execute on offense,” Herman said. “When you only have two players who are scoring you're not going to win basketball games.”
Woodland Park trailed Harrison 48-13 at halftime. Harrison missed just four shots during the first 16 minutes.
“Harrison couldn't miss,” Herman said. “I'm surprised they only missed four shots. It seemed like they were making everything they threw toward the basket. I think they shot 93 percent for the game.”
The boys find themselves in a similar predicament as the girls in that they need to win at least three of their final four games to have a chance of making the playoffs. Wasson, Widefield and Sierra have already clinched playoff berths.
“The competition in our league is unreal,” Herman said. “It's phenomenal. The coaches in (Colorado) Springs are doing some great things.
“We have a phenomenal group of boys. My job is to develop men.”