GRAND JUNCTION (2/21/14) — A tale of two halves, to borrow a phrase from Dickens, provided much drama in the semi-final round of the Western Slope League district tournament Friday at Colorado Mesa University before the Glenwood girls and Rifle boys won closely contested games to advance to their respective championships on Saturday.
GLENWOOD GIRLS 43, RIFLE 29 @ CMU
When Chante Church left the semi-final game between Rifle and Glenwood with a third foul just 47 seconds into the second quarter and her team down by 7 points, it appeared the Lady Bears’ chances of upsetting the number-one seed went to the bench with her. Church had scored all 8 of her team’s points. But Rifle survived a six-minute stretch without the Western Slope’s leading scorer when the Lady Demons shot just 1-for-7, adding just one point to their lead.
Church returned one minute before halftime and, after missing a 3-pointer, made 4 free throws to cut Glenwood’s lead to 18-14 at intermission.
It was quite a contrast from the Demons’ dominant first half in Thursday’s 74-43 win over Durango when they scored 44 points and made 18 of 28 shots.
Rifle’s defense concentrated on keeping the ball out of the hands of Glenwood’s high-scoring guards, Delaney Gaddis and Jordan DeCrow, while collapsing on 6-foot Madi Spence underneath. That trio made 15 of their first 19 attempts the night before, but neither DeCrow nor Gaddis got off a shot in the first quarter against Rifle. Spence was 3-for-3 inside, helping the Demons to a 14-6 lead, but went scoreless in the second period. Gaddis and DeCrow combined for only 4 points on 1-of-7 shooting for the first half.
The third stanza was an exercize in futility as Glenwood was 2-for-10 and Rifle 3-for-14 in a 6-6 quarter that kept the Bears within four points, 24-20, going into the final frame. The two teams combined to miss all 7 of their 3-point tries.
Glenwood’s twin towers of juniors Spence and 6-0 Hailey Armstrong finally put the game out of reach in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, scoring 9 straight points for the Demons while Rifle managed just a 3-pointer by Church. Gaddis, who had scored 58 points in her last two games, had just a single free throw until she made a pair from the line with 4:29 to go in the game, giving Glenwood a 35-23 lead.
Church led all scorers with 23, but her teammates could score just 6 points on 3-of-25 shots. Armstrong and Spence each tallied 12 points and combined for 15 rebounds, helping Glenwood to a 35-22 advantage on the boards. Senior Laura McDermott had a fine all-around game for the Demons, scoring 7, grabbing 12 rebounds, blocking 3 shots, and when Rifle forced the ball out of the guards’ hands, McDermott brought the ball down and had 7 assists. She even made her first 3-pointer of the season.
Glenwood (21-1) will meet third-seeded Montrose (15-7), which finished second to Grand Junction in the 5A Southwestern league, at 10 a.m. at CMU on Saturday for the district championship. The game will be broadcast only on KMTS.com until the conclusion of the Olympic bronze medal hockey game. The Indians won close games over Steamboat, 42-39, and Palisade, 30-27, to reach the finals. They trailed the Bulldogs 21-8 in the first half, but shut out Palisade in the fourth quarter to secure the win.
RIFLE BOYS 52, PALISADE 43
Rifle, which was tied going into the fourth quarter Thursday before outscoring Cortez by six points to reach the semi-finals, found its offensive gear a little sooner in a 52-43 win over Palisade Friday.
After three lead changes and four ties midway through the second quarter, Rifle’s Tanner Quick scored 8 straight points to help the Bears to a 21-17 halftime lead.
Trent Brown scored a driving layup on Rifle’s opening third-quarter possession, Quick scored on a pass from Tanner Rust, and Wyatt Robinson added two buckets as the Bears ripped off 8 straight in the first 3 minutes for a 29-17 lead. Palisade finally scored a free throw, but Nick Kosht followed with a 3-pointer to push the lead to 14, and Brown’s floor-length pass to Clinton Farr gave Rifle a 34-18 lead with 3:10 remaining in the period.
The Bulldogs’ Marcus Combs hit back-to-back treys in the final minute, but Rifle still held a 35-24 fourth quarter advantage. Palisade, held to single digits in the first three quarters on 10-of-27 shooting, added two more 3-pointers in the first minute of the final frame, but got no closer than 7 points as the Bears insured their place in the championship game by making 11-of-15 free throws.
Quick had 21 points to lead the Bears, with Brown adding 10 and Robinson 9. Zach Marengo led Palisade (13-9) with 14 points.
The Bears (17-3) will meet the 5A Southwestern League runner-up Durango (14-6) at 11:30 a.m. Saturday for the WSL district championship. The Demons survived a pair of close contests, 45-41 over Delta, and 45-41 over Montrose, to reach the finals.
DELTA ELIMINATES GLENWOOD BOYS, 51-48
The Glenwood boys, seeded third in the district tournament, were eliminated from the state playoffs, losing a second straight heartbreaker, 51-48 to Delta. The Demons (15-9) held a 15-9 first-quarter lead and were ahead 32-31 late in the third quarter before losing to the Panthers(11-11). Thursday, Glenwood held a 43-37 third-quarter lead over Montrose(9-12), but the Indians outscored the Demons 19-8 the rest of the way to win, 56-51.