KMTS Playoffs: Coal Ridge Comeback Lands Titans in District Semifinals

PEACH VALLEY (2/23/11) — The last time Coal Ridge and Grand Valley met in girls basketball, the score was tied at 21 going into the final quarter. In Wednesday’s 3A district quarterfinal game, the Titans scored 21 in the last quarter to secure a 55-46 victory that insures a state playoff spot and sets up a semifinal match with Olathe 3 p.m. Friday at Palisade High School.

Coal Ridge (14-6) had to overcome a poor start to the home game as the Cardinals (7-13) featured a 4-point play by freshman Ashlynn Speakman in surging to a 16-6 first-quarter lead. A 3-pointer by Chasity Gonzales and back-to-back steals leading to layups by Ashlie Bowles and freshman Paige Ryan began the comeback in the second period.

A pass from Bowles to Carly Cloninger gave Coal Ridge its first lead, 25-23, capping a 7-0 run up to halftime. With Bowles and Ryan harassing their ball handlers and the six-foot Cloninger defending the paint, the Cardinals were mostly limited to whatever their 3-point shooters could make, and that was just 3-of-17 attempts in the first half.

Shawnee Young did sink a trey early in the third period to trim the Titan lead to 28-27, but Grand Valley failed to score for the next four minutes. Coal Ridge struggled also, turning the ball over five times during that stretch and managing just two free throws and Bowles’ put-back to increase the lead to five, and led 34-30 going into the final quarter.

A drive by Brandi Krieg sliced the lead to two, early in the last period, but Gonzales hit another three, and Cloninger scored twice on passes from Bowles and Ryan to push the lead to 41-34 midway through the quarter, before fouling out with 2:45 to play.

Speakman gave the Cardinals hope with a three, but Gonzales answered it, and Coal Ridge finally began to make free throws after missing 10 of 17 through the game’s first 24 minutes. Bowles and Ryan hit four straight to push the Titan lead to ten, 50-40 with just over two minutes left. The Titans also had no turnovers in the final 5 minutes after committing 21 prior to that point.

Speakman and Young each splashed three-pointers, but Ryan scored on a put-back and made 3-of-4 free throws in the final minute to wrap up the victory. Cloninger led all scorers with 16 and also pulled in 12 rebounds. Bowles scored 12, had 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals. Gonzales hit 3-of-5 deep shots, adding 11 points, and Ryan had 8 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals.

Speakman led Grand Valley with 14 points, Young added 12, and Krieg 9. The Cardinals will host Roaring Fork (2-19) in the Consolation semifinals Thursday. The Rams lost to WSL South number-one seed Olathe (17-3), 56-32 Wednesday. The Pirates, who defeated Coal Ridge 54-42 in their only meeting this season, will meet the Titans in the District semifinals at 3 p.m. on Friday at Palisade High School. Gunnison (14-6) defeated Basalt, 44-36, and will play Rifle (20-0) at 6:30 in Friday’s other semifinal. All four semifinal teams and the Consolation champion will advance to the 32-team 3A state playoffs.

Here is the remaining Western Slope 3A District schedule:

Thursday’s Consolation semifinals:
Boys – Hotchkiss (7-12) @ Gunnison (10-10);
Olathe (8-12) @ Rifle (10-11).
(KMTS will broadcast the Olathe-Rifle boys game at 6 p.m.)
Girls – Cedaredge (5-15) @ Basalt (6-13);
Roaring Fork (2-19) @ Grand Valley (7-13).

Friday’s Semifinals at Palisade High School:
3 p.m. – Coal Ridge girls (14-6) vs. Olathe (17-3)
4:45 p.m. – Roaring Fork boys (12-7) vs. Grand Valley (16-4)
6:30 p.m. – Rifle girls (20-0) vs. Gunnison (14-6)
(possible KMTS broadcast)
8:15 p.m. – Coal Ridge boys (12-8) vs. Aspen (13-7) (possible KMTS broadcast)

Saturday at Palisade High School:
top 5 finishers advance to state playoffs
9 a.m. – girls consolation final (fifth place)
10:45 a.m. – boys consolation final
12:30 p.m. – girls third place (semifinal losers)
2:15 p.m. – boys third place
4 p.m. – girls championship
5:45 p.m. – boys championship

4A First Round playoffs:

Friday, 2:30 p.m. – Glenwood Springs girls (18-4)
vs. Golden (18-5) at Broomfield High School

Friday, 4:30 p.m. – Glenwood Springs boys (18-5)
vs. Thomas Jefferson (13-10) at CSU Pueblo
(KMTS will broadcast this game)

Friday’s winners play at the same sites on Saturday with those winners advancing to the Great Eight at the Colorado School of Mines (girls – Friday, March 4; boys – Saturday March 5).