KMTS BASKETBALL: GS Girls Hold Off Palisade Challenge; Boys Stumble

GLENWOOD SPRINGS (2/17/14) — Resplendent as usual in the opposition’s colors, Glenwood Springs coach Jacky Gaddis, though delighted her girls held off a challenge from Palisade to remain undefeated, had a higher standard in mind after the first win by less than double-digits Friday night. Meanwhile, the Demon boys are hoping a fourth-quarter rally will provide impetus to reverse a slide that’s left them losers in three of their last four games.

GLENWOOD GIRLS 45, PALISADE 37

Glenwood’s first ten victories this season have been by an average of 25 points, with a couple of 12-point wins (Coal Ridge, Eagle Valley) being the closest margins. Palisade (7-4, 4-2), just a game behind the Lady Demons (11-0, 6-0) in the Western Slope standings, figured to provide a challenge, but Glenwood grabbed a quick 8-0 lead and held a 12-4 advantage with 2 minutes to go in the first quarter.

But the Bulldogs closed the gap to one as Cruz Maestas converted all three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point try just before the buzzer. Glenwood committed 5 turnovers during that stretch and that trend continued into the second quarter as Palisade, with Jenna Brown scoring the first 5 points, took a 16-12 lead. The Demons, meanwhile added 4 more turnovers, making it 9 in 11 possessions.

“They (the Bulldogs) played great, in-your-face, man-to-man (defense),” Gaddis admitted, “but we created our own chaos.” Delaney Gaddis, the coach’s senior daughter, began to right the ship with her third 3-pointer of the game, and a drive to the hoop by Jordan DeCrow regained the lead. Jenna Brown, one of four sisters starting for Palisade, matched the trey for to go ahead, 19-17, with 2:40 to go in the half. It would be the Bulldogs’ last lead.

Gaddis penetrated and dished to Bella Diaz inside for two, then scored on a pass from Madi Spence and returned the favor after a steal on the next Bulldog possession . Glenwood began the quarter (and the game) in a zone, but changing to a man-to-man produced 8 turnovers as the Demons ran off 8 straight points — the last coming after a steal and layup by Diaz made it 25-19 with 35 seconds left in the half. Ashlyn Brown’s 3-pointer just before intermission cut the lead to three points.

Glenwood scored the first 10 points of the second half, including the 4th trey in 4 attempts by Gaddis, pushing the lead to 13, 35-22. Palisade responded with a pair of 3-pointers as the Demons missed their last 10 shots and 3 of 4 free throws in the final 4 minutes of the quarter.

When Palisade scored the first two buckets of the fourth period while Glenwood had 3 turnovers, the lead was down to 4 points and Gaddis called time out. DeCrow responded with a 3-pointer, but the Demons missed 3 of 4 free throws before Spence banked in a jumper off a pass from Gaddis, and scored on a put back for a 44-36 lead with 2:20 to go. Down the stretch Glenwood again missed 3 of 4 free throws (they were 4 of 12 in the second half), but Palisade missed their last 8 shots and made only one free throw in that time with the Demon man-to-man contesting each possession.

Gaddis bemoaned the inability to put Palisade away at the line and the team’s 23 turnovers, while giving her girls’ defense the credit for keeping them unbeaten. “Defense is always the case. We’ll play a pretty game sometime, but 11-0 feels pretty good.”

Gaddis led the scoring with 15 points on 4-of-5 treys with 6 assists, and Spence bounced back from her first single-digit scoring game since the season opener with her sixth double-double, 12 points and 14 rebounds, along with 3 blocks. Hailey Armstrong helped the Demons to a 38-27 rebounding advantage with 11, and DeCrow added 10 points.

PALISADE 55, GLENWOOD BOYS 39

When Glenwood Springs opened its season by winning the first eight, the Demons averaged 66 points a game, and a week ago set a scoring peak in an 86-49 trouncing of Roaring Fork. So how does this team manage just 39 points in back-to-back losses at Grand Junction Central and in losing its third of the last four, 55-39 at home to Palisade?

Coach Cory Hitchcock and his staff are undoubtedly putting much time, thought, and practice time into searching for answers, but one possibility is confidence. Hitchcock said after the big win over Roaring Fork that his team may have gotten too comfortable after its early success.

In their three losses, the Demons have sputtered to slow starts, several of their scoring leaders often scoreless at halftime. Seven first-quarter points, and just 15 at halftime of the Delta loss; down 19-8 at Central with just 15 points at intermission. Friday night versus Palisade, Glenwood fell behind 19-3 in the first period before rallying to trail 21-13 by the end of the quarter. But that was followed by just 4 points in the second period for a 31-17 deficit, and another 4-point output in the third.

Players were passing up what appeared to be good shots, and that’s usually a sign of lagging confidence. The Demons were 4-of-20 in the second and third periods and trailed Palisade 47-21 going into the final frame.

Certainly, the Bulldogs’ unprecedented 3-point shooting barrage contributed: Tass Crow, averaging 5 points per game, nailed 3 treys in the first quarter and hit two more in the third, finishing with 17 to lead all scorers. Even 6-3 inside pounder Zach Marengo was 2-for-2 beyond the arc as the Bulldogs made their first seven treys of the game.

Brian Burbidge, who scored 9 of Glenwood’s 13 first-quarter points, then went silent with the rest of the team, finally got back on the scoreboard with a fourth-quarter drive. Then Pete Steckler popped in a three, and Cam Horning, who had 40 points against the Rams and is the Demons’ season scoring leader, turned a steal into a layup — giving him 4 points for the game.

Jared Gambrel, scoreless until then, hit a jumper and also got a layup off a steal. Horning sank a 3-pointer, Gambrel scored on a drive, and Zach Peterson’s defensive play led to a breakaway for Horning. In 4 minutes, the Demons came within a 3-pointer of matching their entire game’s output, cutting Palisade’s 28-point lead in half with an 18-4 run to trail 53-39 with 2:24 remaining.

There would be no two-minute miracle this night, but the Demons have to hope that the 4th-quarter resurrgence will carry over to next week’s 3-games in 3 days, league stretch starting Thursday at Summit.

About Jack Jabbour

High school sports analyst
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