GLENWOOD SPRINGS (1/16/18) – Coming into Tuesday’s contest in Glenwood Springs, the Demon boys and Steamboat Sailors were both undefeated in Western Slope League action – and halfway through the third quarter the teams were deadlocked at 33.
Suddenly, after a one-for-seven start behind the 3-point arc, Glenwood found the range, sinking four of five, and to make their 60-53 victory secure, the Demons also made their final ten free throws to fight back every challenge from the tall, athletic Sailors.
The Glenwood girls scored the first 18 points in their 50-14 demolishing of an 0-and-13 Steamboat team that suited up only eight players, moving into third place in league with a third straight win.
GLENWOOD BOYS 60, STEAMBOAT 53
“We were motivated when the RPI (ratings used to seed high school basketball playoffs) came out and Steamboat (6-7, 1-1 WSL) was number ten, and we’re 22,” Demon coach Cory Hitchcock said after a 34-25 second half enabled Glenwood (11-3, 5-0) to defeat yet another league contender that out-sized them.
The Sailors featured four players 6-3 or taller and blocked three of Glenwood’s 11 shot attempts in the first quarter, including two breakaway layups after steals, to take an 11-6 first-quarter lead. But in the second quarter Aaron Smith got through the Steamboat defense for a couple of layups, as did AJ Crowley. Angel Garcia dropped in a three, and despite having another attempt blocked, recovered the loose ball to hit a jumper, tying the score for the fourth time with 1:02 remaining in the half.
Glenwood got the ball back with a chance to take the lead, but Garcia’s inbounds pass was stolen by the 6-4 Mac Rininker, who scored just before the buzzer for a 28-26 Steamboat lead at intermission. That would be the Sailors’ last lead of the game.
“That was a silly turnover,” Hitchcock said after the Demons’ fifth win in a row, “but we buckled down and did a great job in the second half. They’re much bigger than us, but we did much better at boxing out, and defense won it for us.”
The Demons regained the lead on Smith’s 3-pointer three minutes into the second half. Steamboat tied it for the third time in the quarter before Garcia’s trey gave Glenwood the lead for good with 3:40 left in the quarter. A steal by Chano Gonzalez resulted in a Smith-to-Wyatt Ewer three-pointer that boosted the lead to six, and another Gonzalez steal led to a layup and 43-36 edge going to the final frame.
Another three by Ewer increased the lead to nine with 4:30 to go, but Steamboat came back to within four before Gabe Suarez hit two free throws and a basket around yet another Gonzalez steal and layup for a 54-44 lead with 55 seconds remaining.
Still, the Sailors refused to go quietly with the 6-4 Aden Knaus hitting a 3-pointer and three straight fouls by Glenwood stopping the clock and sending Steamboat to the line. “We tried to give it away, rushing shots and fouling,” Hitchcock said, but Chano did a great job, and free throws were the key.”
Crowley, who has made eleven straight from the line through the past two games, Suarez, and Smith combined to go 8-for-8 in the final quarter, and Gonzalez finished with six steals to lead the Demon defense, which forced 17 turnovers and held the Sailors to 3-for-17 on 3-pointers. Riniker, the league’s third-leading scorer at 17 a game, committed six of those turnovers and was limited to 7 points on just 7 shot attempts.
Glenwood made 15-of-17 from the line and has converted 99-of-120 free throws, 83 per cent, in its five league wins. Smith’s 14 points with 5 assists led the Demons, Garcia scoring 11, and Suarez 10. Crowley added 9 points, Gonzalez 8, and Ewer 7 in a balanced attack.
The Demons host 5A Fruita Monument (9-6) on Tuesday. The Wildcats defeated Glenwood 60-50 before the break and recently beat Steamboat Springs, 72-58. Asked about the non-league game in the midst of conference play, Hitchcock said, “Fruita will be a good test for us – to be the best, you’ve got to compete with the best.”
GLENWOOD GIRLS 50, STEAMBOAT 14
Senior Dani DeCrow hit a 3-pointer on Glenwood’s initial possession, scored on a put-back, and sank another trey to key the Demons’ opening 18-0 salvo, finishing with 11 points to lead the girls’ third straight league win, 50-14.
Maddie Bolitho and Saylor Warren, also seniors, combined for 19 points for coach Rhonda Moser, who lauded the composure of her team’s elder leaders in the absence of 6-0 Tatum Peterson, who leads the league in rebounds and blocks and is third in scoring. “The other girls have stepped up,” Moser said. “It could be a week-to-a-month until Tatum’s ankle is healed.”
The Lady Demons, with Bolitho going 2-for-2, hit 4-of-9 three pointers, committed just nine turnovers, and improved a dreadful 2-for-12 free throw performance last Saturday against Eagle to 10-of-19, Sophomore 5-10 post Qwynn Massie added six points and five rebounds with Warren pulling down 7 boards as Glenwood also edged the Sailors 29-25 in that department.
With the win, Glenwood (8-6, 3-2 WSL) passes Battle Mountain (2-2, WSL) and Summit (1-1) to move into third place behind Palisade (2-1) and Rifle (3-0). The Demons host Fruita Monument Thursday in a non-league tilt before traveling to Summit on Saturday.