The Pueblo West High School girls basketball team claimed the South-Central League title for the fifth time in program history and first since 2018 on Thursday at Jerry Kersey.

Cyclones senior guard Hannah Simental scored a game-high 16 points and sophomore Gabby Louther tallied 9 to lead Pueblo West to a 57-23 win over Pueblo County.

The Class 4A No. 2 ranked Pueblo West improved to 20-1 overall and a perfect 8-0 in league play.The Hornets are now 9-12 and 2-6.

While winning the league title is an accomplishment for the Cyclones squad, the team remains focused on improving over its final two regular season games.

"Honestly, we're not even thinking about that right now," said Pueblo West head coach Gil Lucero. "We're just trying to execute and be playing our best basketball."

In addition to winning the league title, Thursday was also senior night for the Pueblo West girls team. Simental, Jorden Ross, Taylor Dabovich, Shae Gallery and Maya Sanchez were honored before the game.

A tradition at West, all five seniors started the contest.

Lucero said starting all five of his seniors is to honor the hard work and dedication the girls have put in while playing.

"They've put in four years of work," he said. "They've dedicated four years to the progoram. I think they deserve to start."

Lucero credited this group of seniors for bolstering the programs' successes the past four years.

Many of the girls on the team have grown up around the program, having older siblings play there as well.

"They've been so instrumental in the success of this program," Lucero said. "They're a huge asset to this program from their work ethic to their dedication and commitment.

"They're great leaders and lead by example."

South vs. Central

A low scoring first half ended with an intense finale at the Southwest Motors Events Center.

South High School girls basketball team defeated Central 47-44 Thursday night, bringing their record to 10-11 overall and 6-3 in the South-Central League.

The first quarter ended with a 9-8 score and the Wildcats were leading. The low score was not for lack of trying though, both teams were just playing strong defensively.

Central led the game until the fourth quarter, when the intensity ramped up from both sides of the court.

South coach Shannon Patterson said the Colts have a tendency to come out lacking energy.

“Teams kind of just jump on us,” Patterson said. “We responded really well in the second half, we just got up, we pressured them and made them uncomfortable.”

Grace Whiting, a junior at South and a center had nine points in the fourth quarter. Eight from posting up, being in the right place at the right time, and one from a free-throw.

“She just adds a different aspect for us,” Patterson said. “When we can go two bigs it not only helps us on the offensive boards to give us that post presence, but because with (Jada Dupree) and (Chloe Keck) teams have a tendency to focus on them.

“If we can draw focus other ways, that’s good for us to get scorers on the inside. It’s not necessarily coming from penetration because we have a post presence. Her and (Maddison Reardon) do really well together on the court and she’s finishing a lot better on the rim.”

Whiting said that she felt the game went well overall because they learned how to play together and finish as a team.

But big shooters Dupree and Keck both fouled out, with minutes left in the game.

“Since we had to step up for other players, I think that’s what made us finish,” Whiting said. “I think since we knew they were fouled out, (Madison Bussey) knew she had to step up as a guard and me and (Reardon) had to connect as posts to get each other those passes.”

With 2:03 left in the fourth, the Colts had pulled ahead 43-41 and Patterson called a timeout. The Wildcats had possession of the ball and nearly tied the game, but the Colts held on strong.

Patterson said in times like that, she does what she can to keep the girls calm, but they’re learning as they go to just take it one step at a time.

“I just try and vocalize a little bit,” Patterson said. “I tell them ‘One defensive stop, one possession at a time, like we get a stop and if we get the ball and we’re up okay stay calm, don’t turn it over. If you have an opportunity obviously score.’ But I think they’re all coming along, and it says a lot for us being so young as well. They’re maturing in themselves.”

The Colts will take on Air Academy at 5 p.m Saturday at South High School.

Chieftain sports reporter Alexis Smith can be reached by email at asmith@chieftain.com or on Twitter smith_alexis27.