KMTS BASKETBALL: THRILLING FINISH KEYS TOURNEY SWEEP OF EAGLES

GLENWOOD SPRINGS (12/7/17) — Perennial 3A state champion contending Faith Christian was cruising to a double-digit victory over Glenwood Springs in the opener of the boys Demon Invitational Thursday when the unexpected happened – in stages, concluding with Aaron Smith’s buzzer-beating layup for a 58-56 win. The Glenwood girls had polished off the Eagles earlier in an impressive 50-30 triumph that began with a 12-0 first quarter.

GLENWOOD BOYS 58, FAITH CHRISTIAN 56

A 12-point, third-quarter Eagle advantage was trimmed to four by an 8-0 Glenwood run, keyed by three-pointers from Angel Garcia and Aaron Smith. Still, 6-3 senior Benjamin Hawkins, who scored all 15 Eagle points in the quarter, made two free throws and buried a trey of his own, to halt the run and restore a six-point lead. Until Kevin Ayon’s steal led to a layup by Chano Gonzalez just before the buzzer, leaving Glenwood down just 46-42.

A three-point play on a drive by AJ Crowley shaved the margin to one, 50-49 with 3:29 left in the game, but four free throws and a turnover leading to Jonah Gardner’s layup seemingly had Faith in command, 56-51, with 1:51 to go. The Demon defense made sure the Eagles wouldn’t score again.

Hawkins led all scorers with 27 points, but was shut out by Gonzalez and good help-defense in the final quarter. Garcia drilled another 3-pointer on a kick-out pass from Holden Kleager with 1:30 left, slicing the lead to two. Smith, who had made 36-of-39 free throws in his team’s first three games, went to the line for the first time against the Eagles with 1:12 remaining and swished both, tying the score at 56.

A block by Kleager on Gardner was recovered by Gonzalez, but instead of holding for a last shot, Smith tried a 3-pointer from the left wing and missed, Isaiah Kroll rebounding for the Eagles with 25 seconds to play.

Faith tried to set up a game-winning shot, but with just over four seconds left, Gonzalez and Garcia harassed senior guard Alec Muehlemeyer into losing the ball out of bounds.

Demon coach Cory Hitchcock called timeout with 4.7 seconds showing on the clock. Crowley in-bounded from in front of the Glenwood bench to Smith who circled left around the key, then drove hard to the basket, laying the ball off the glass and in for the game-winner just as the buzzer sounded. Smith was then buried by leaping teammates near the baseline as Demon fans roared to their feet in the stands.

Glenwood (3-1) had made three of its first four shots – all three-pointers for early 6-0 and 9-4 leads, but behind eight points by Hawkins, Faith surged back to take a 15-14 first-quarter lead, and padded it to 31-24 by halftime.
Smith led Glenwood scorers with 14, adding five assists. Garcia tallied 10, 8 points each from Gonzalez, Crowley, and Kleager, who also had 3 blocks, with Luke Gair scoring 7 before fouling out in the final frame. The Demons, who avenged a one-point loss to Faith Christian (0-2) last year, have won three straight since losing their season-opener and host Canon City Friday, before concluding the tournament with Alamosa.

GLENWOOD GIRLS 50, FAITH CHRISTIAN 30

Despite missing their first six shots, the Glenwood girls’ pressure defense held Faith Christian scoreless while the offense gradually heated up in the opening quarter. Maddie Bolitho grabbed an offensive rebound – Glenwood would finish with 26 of those, fed Tatum Peterson inside and the 6-0 senior started a 12-0 period for the Lady Demons at the 6 minute-mark.

Glenwood’s pressure resulted in eleven Eagle first-quarter turnovers – 32 for the game, and the Demons pounded the glass for a 15-4 rebounding advantage, including ten second chances.

After Faith finally scored, a minute into the second quarter, Bolitho keyed a 6-0 run with a steal and layup and two of her nine assists for the game leading to a 20-2 advantage. At halftime the Demons led 24-9, without attempting a single 3-point shot, instead using quick basket cuts with crisp entry-passes and holding the Eagles to just 3 of 15 shots with 18 turnovers at intermission.

In the third period, Glenwood used another 6-0 run, including a 3-pointer by Natalya Taylor to go up 30-13, two minutes into the quarter, when coach Ronda Moser called off the trapping press. Faith still couldn’t manage much offense, scoring only two free throws until a 3-pointer by Kenzie Connor with 22 seconds remaining, but the Demons missed twelve straight shots after a Peterson basket at 4:20. Saylor Warren’s layup at quarter’s end gave Glenwood a 36-18 lead.

Seeking to regain its earlier offensive flow, the Demons reinstated their press and promptly went on a 9-1 run, making three straight shots along with 3-of-4 free throws by Celia Scruton.

For the game, turnovers and offensive rebounds enabled Glenwood (2-2) to take 63 shots (making 20) to just 35 for Faith Christian (2-2). The Demons outrebounded the Eagles, 40-23. Peterson led all scorers with 13, followed by three Demons, Warren, Taylor, and Ximena Gutierrez with seven each. Warren also had 13 rebounds (10 offensive) and Gutierrez 8 boards and 6 steals. Bolitho had just four points, but in addition to 9 assists also had five steals.

The Demon Invitation continues Friday and Saturday, with Glenwood meeting Canon City and Alamosa.

About Jack Jabbour

High school sports analyst
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