GLENWOOD SPRINGS (1/13/18) – Advised prior to Saturday’s first-place showdown with Eagle Valley’s three-point bombers that the Devils had put up 53 long-distance shots in a two-point win over Rifle earlier that week, Glenwood Springs coach Cory Hitchcock was succinct and confident, “We’re not gonna zone ‘em; it’ll come down to execution and good defense.”
That prognostication was worthy of Nostradamos, the famed French “seer” of the sixteenth century. The Demon defense effectively “executed” the notorious long-range missile attack of the Devils in a 91-34 spanking that leaves Glenwood and Tuesday’s opponent, Steamboat Springs as the only undefeated 4A Western Slope League boys teams.
The Glenwood girls, struggling to overcome the scoring and rebounding of the injured Tatum Peterson, relied on the senior leadership and clutch scoring of Maddie Bolitho in a hard-fought 41-39 win over Eagle that moved the Lady Demons within reach of contention in league play.
GLENWOOD BOYS 91, EAGLE VALLEY 34
The numbers Eagle Valley had put up despite a 5-6 pre-season were staggering, 75 points a game and 538 three-point attempts. The Devils were also 2-0 in league play following a 76-74 edging of the Rifle Bears, where their constant barrage of 3-pointers eventually overtook several second-half double-digit leads.
“I knew if we took away the three-point shot, we’d be fine,” Hitchcock said after his team did just that, limiting Eagle to 1-for-9 from beyond the arc in a first half that saw Glenwood (10-3, 4-0 WSL) race to a dominating 58-17 score, including 32 points in the second quarter when ten different Demons scored.
Despite its 4-0 league mark, Hitchcock said the Demons were striving to get back to playing the kind of ball they were before the Christmas break. “I challenged them to show me heart and fire. This was a great team effort, and we did a good job on the boards tonight,” Hitchcock said after outrebounding Eagle, 35-16, despite the absence of leading rebounder Luke Gair, still recovering from a sprained ankle.
Aaron Smith, Angel Garcia, and AJ Crowley got Glenwood off to a swift start, combining for 21 of the team’s 26 points, while the Demons’ man-to-man defense was holding Eagle to 2-of-11, shooting, 0-for-6 from beyond the arc, and just four points.
Besides the defense, another key to Glenwood’s 14-0 start was the ball movement on offense, featuring pin-point passing by Kevin Ayon that resulted in two consecutive layups by Holden Kleager and one by Smith. Crowley then found Smith for a pair of treys and with 5:22 to go in the first quarter, the game was close to being over. “Kevin’s a great passer,” Hitchcock said, “with such good court vision. I knew if we’d swing it, we’d get layups all day long.”
Ahead 45-9 half-way through the second quarter, Hitchcock moved Chano Gonzalez to point with four primarily junior varsity players, who responded like their predecessors. Six-four sophomore AJ Adams poured in 6 points and finished as the game’s leading scorer with 17 points. Sophomore Patrick Young added 7 points while Gonzalez wound up with 7 assists. Smith tallied 11 first-half points and Crowley ten before leaving the game to the reserves, who still managed to double the Devils’ third-quarter output, 24-12.
Hitchcock has no illusions that Tuesday night’s matchup in Glenwood against Steamboat Springs (6-6, 1-0 WSL) will be as easy as overcoming the Devils’ one-dimensional attack: “Steamboat’s the favorite to win the league. It’s going to be a battle.”
GLENWOOD GIRLS 41, EAGLE VALLEY 39
“Maddie has stepped up and taken a leadership role,” Lady Demon coach Rhonda Moser said of the senior guard’s 28 points in the two games since Peterson’s injury. That was apparent against Eagle Valley (2-11, 0-3) as Bolitho scored in each quarter and led her team with 15 points, including treys in the second and third periods, and decisive buckets in the game’s most critical moments.
Regan Bossow, who led Eagle with 14 points and 15 rebounds, nailed a 3-pointer to give the Devils an opening 3-0 lead, but seven straight points including a trey from Ellie Moser and Bolitho’s jumper put Glenwood in front before Eagle rallied for a 7-7 tie by quarter’s end.
Bolitho knocked down a 3-pointer and Saylor Warren scored inside to boost the advantage to five early in the second, only to see the Devils pull to within one, 12-11. A Bolitho drive to the hoop started a 7-0 Demon surge that included a put-back and trey from Emily Worline, and Glenwood led 20-15 at the half.
However, a rare technical foul assessed because one of Glenwood’s boys hung on the rim during their halftime warm-ups led to two free throws by Bossow, and the Lady Demons’ continued free throw struggles enabled the Devils to take a 21-20 lead on Bossow’s basket underneath.
Glenwood was just 2-for-12 from the line in the game and 0-for-4 in the third period, but Bolitho again righted the ship, hitting a 3-pointer after two offensive rebounds by a hustling Ximena Gutierrez kept the possession alive. Bolitho fed Gutierrez, just returned from a 3-game suspension, to advance the lead to 25-21 with 4:29 remaining in the quarter.
When Bolitho set up Moser’s second trey of the contest, the Demons took a 32-25 lead into the final quarter. Bolitho got a floating drive to fall, opening a nine point lead, but Bossow would bring the Devils back. A 3-point play followed by an assist to Kaitlin Medina, then a pair of free throws by Medina cut the advantage to 34-32.
After a basket by 5-10 sophomore Qwynn Massie opened up a five point Demon lead with 3:50 to go, Glenwood was fortunate that Eagle Valley, which had connected on 11-of-12 free throws to that point, suddenly couldn’t make anything from the line, missing four straight, including the front end of a pair of one-and-one opportunities.
However, the Demons, who had just nine turnovers through the first three quarters, suddenly suffered a series of miscues, leading to six straight Devil points and a 38-37 lead on a Joslin Blair steal and layup with 1:20 left in the game.
Following a Demon timeout, Bolitho drove the baseline to regain the lead with a minute remaining, then tipped the ball to Dani DeCrow for a pivotal steal with 35 seconds on the clock. After another timeout by coach Moser, Bolitho found Guiterrez cutting to the hoop for an uncontested layup on the inbounds, giving the Demons the cushion they needed when Medina made only one of two free throws, and Eagle threw the ball away following an offensive foul on Gutierrez with 8 seconds left.
“We stayed composed after a tough call on Ximena,” Moser said afterwards, while also crediting the junior guard with “giving the defense a spark. Her fire carries through the entire team.” Moser also praised the 5-7 Warren’s “presence in the paint,” as the senior helped offset Peterson’s absence by pulling down 9 rebounds to go with 6 points. Senior Ellie Moser has also picked up her scoring, tallying 14, on 4-of-8 treys in the two games the Demons’ scoring leader has been out, including 8 points against the Devils.