GLENWOOD SPRINGS(2/17/12) — After battling league-leading Eagle Valley through four quarters in one of their best efforts of the season before falling 59-52 last Friday, the Glenwood Springs senior boys gathered on the court of Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium to bid farewell to their high school basketball careers. Losing five of their last six games, to finish 10-13, the boys and their fans figured the season was over with no chance at the playoffs.
But when CHSAA released the 4A boys state basketball tournament bracket on Sunday, the Demons found they had received the last seed in the Bill Weimar Region and were slated to play at Green Mountain High School (14-8) in Lakewood on Tuesday. The 5th rated Rams finished fourth in the Jeffco League with a 7-3 record, behind D\'Evelyn, Valor Christian and Evergreen. Glenwood (4-8) finished 5th in the Western Slope League, behind co-leaders Eagle and Delta, Palisade, and Steamboat Springs, all of whom also made the 48-team playoffs.
Glenwood, which had lost 69-52 at Eagle Valley on January 19th after falling behind 28-5 in the first quarter, looked like a different team playing their last home game of the season. The Demons took an early 11-6 lead and behind Mike McGraw\'s 10 points and 8 from Kellin Casey, including a pair of treys, led 23-22 at the half.
The Devils\' Ayren Hart went off for 12 points, mostly inside, in the third quarter to help his team take a two point advantage, 36-34 into the final frenzied period. A full-house was rocking throughout the quarter and came to its feet when a McGraw steal led to a layup and a 43-42 Demon lead with 4:20 to play. Fifteen seconds later Grant Fegan nailed a 3-pointer to give Glenwood its last lead of the game, 46-44. Hart, who would tally 21 in the contest, regained the lead for the Devils with a layup and a driving basket that also netted a free throw; then Tim Wells scored back-to-back, concluding a 7-0 run. McGraw, who led all scorers with 22, twice drew the Demons within three, then Fegan scored on a twisting reverse layup, slicing the margin to 53-52 with 1:13 remaining.
That would be the last hurrah for the Demons as they had to foul, and were also hit with a technical, resulting in Eagle sinking 6 of 8 free throws in the final 30 seconds to secure the win. It was a sterling effort by a Glenwood team that had only a one-sided victory at Battle Mountain after starting the second half of the season with a rousing 66-50 avenging win over Steamboat Springs.
Now the Demons must travel to face a team that starts four players over 6-4, including 6-9 senior Ryan Stephan who leads the team in scoring (21.8), rebounds and blocks. However, considering they thought they\'d be sitting out these playoffs, Glenwood and its six seniors (McGraw, Casey, Zach Thomas, Randy Burbidge, Robert Reynolds and the injured Cody Derby) are delighted to make the trip.
GLENWOOD GIRLS GET A BYE, PLAY FRIDAY IN COLORADO SPRINGS
Unlike the boys, Glenwood\'s Lady Demons knew they\'d be a part of the 4A state playoffs and were hoping a 3-way tie for first place with Moffat County and Delta would be enough to get them one last home game. As it turns out, they were rated higher than the Panthers, so Delta(18-4) , with a five seed, hosts Conifer(9-13) on Wednesday, while the Demons(18-4) and Moffat County(17-6) each got first-round byes, which means both teams travel to regional sites on Friday.
Glenwood, which thrashed Eagle Valley 59-25 after sputtering to a 7-4 first quarter lead last Friday, goes to Air Academy to meet the winner of the first-round game between 5th-rated Valor Christian(18-4) and 12th-rated Lewis Palmer(5-18). If the Demons win Friday, they would likely play host Air Academy(21-2) on Saturday. Glenwood\'s four seniors all had typical games against the Lady Devils. Lexie Warkentin made her first start after injuring ankle ligaments and scored 7 points, handing out 5 assists. Cassidy Gaddis regained her 3-point stroke, nailed two of four from downtown and matching junior Kenzie Nelson-Buehler for scoring honors with 15. Steady Connor Adams scored eight with 4 assists, and Sarah Davis, who moved into the starting lineup when Nelson-Buehler was injured, then earned her place by scoring 33 points and pulling down 33 rebounds in a four-game stretch — all victories, added 6 points and 6 boards.
Friday\'s likely opponent, Valor Christian, lost 56-44 at D\'Evelyn Friday to finish second in the Jeffco League.
LADY BEARS STUMBLE IN HOME FINALE VS. CHARGING RAMS
RIFLE(2/18/12) — The surging Roaring fork Rams overcame 37 turnovers against Rifle\'s pressing man-to-man defense to win their 8th straight 39-32 Friday in the Bears\' Den and gain a share of the Northern Division Western Slope League crown with Rifle.
The Lady Bears (16-3, 11-2 WSL) had troubles of their own, turning the ball over seven times and making just one of 8 first-quarter shots to fall behind 7-2. Jasmine Figueira\'s six points and a steal and layup by Chante Church sparked a Rifle rally in the second period when the Bears took advantage of 11 Ram turnovers to gain a 15-11 lead with two minutes to go in the half.
But as they did all game, different Ram players — this time it was Kaleigh Wisroth with a layup and 3 of 4 free throws from Megan Gianinetti and Maddie Nieslanik — came through at opportune moments and Roaring Fork scored the last five points of the quarter to regain a one-point 16-15 halftime margin. In the third quarter Megan Gianinetti and Shaeley Lough each scored a pair of baskets to increase the Ram lead to 27-22 going into the final period.
The Bears, who defeated Roaring Fork 49-30 in Carbondale on January 20, rallied within one on steals and layups from Ashley Rickstrew and Joey Kuheim and a dish from Figueira to Church, But Nieslanik scored six straight to keep the Rams in front, 33-30 with a minute to play and a jumper by Lough and Megan Gianinetti\'s in bounds pass to sister Hattie following a Rifle turnover sealed the upset.
Nieslanik led the Rams with 10 points and 8 rebounds; the Gianinettis combined for 15 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals; Wisroth added 8 points to go with 11 rebounds and Lough scored 6 points, all in the second half. Figueira led Rifle with 10 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out with 35 seconds to play. Church added 8 points and 5 steals, but was 0-for-9 on three-point attempts, highlighting a futile night for the Bears as they missed all 23 shots beyond the arc.
Even though the teams have identical 11-2 league records, Rifle awaits the winner of Monday\'s southern division pigtail game between Cedaredge(3-16, 2-11) and Hotchkiss(6-11, 4-9), while the Rams (12-7, 11-2) host Gunnison (6-13, 4-9) on Tuesday.
Olathe (17-2, 13-0), the south champion, awaits the pigtail between Aspen (9-10, 6-7) and Basalt (1-18, 0-13), while Grand Valley (10-9, 7-6) hosts Coal Ridge (10-9, 7-6) Tuesday.