DISTRICT BASKETBALL: Craig Denney Presents District Championship to Lady Demons

GRAND JUNCTION (2/22/14) — As if winning a district championship wasn’t enough for the Glenwood Lady Demons, their courageous and much-loved athletic director, Craig Denney, was on hand to present the trophy after a hard-fought 41-37 win over Montrose at Colorado Mesa University Saturday. The Rifle boys came up short in their bid for the championship in a defensive grinder against Durango, 35-28.

“So special,” an emotional coach Jacky Gaddis said of the presentation from Denney who just returned home this week after a recent setback following chemotherapy for lymphoma.

“Amazing. We didn’t know he’d be here; it (having Denney present the Western Slope district plaque) meant more than anything,” senior Delaney Gaddis said, taking a deep breath after her two 3-pointers in the final two minutes helped the number-one seed Demons fend off the Indinas (15-8), battle-tested by playing in the 5A Southwestern League, where they finished second.


Before the game began, coach Gaddis was wondering what effect playing a 10 o’clock morning game might have on her team after winning on back-to-back nights, but her daughter and teammates had no such qualms. “Before the game we pray and set team goals, and one of them was to have fun. We learned from last year, coming out nervous against good teams we haven’t seen before doesn’t work for us.”

Gaddis, who scored just seven the night before in a semi-final win over Rifle, drove to the hoop for Glenwood’s initial basket and the first of five ties in a half that also saw five lead changes. The Demons held a 9-7 first-quarter lead after Gaddis nailed a trey and turned a steal into a layup just before the buzzer.

Another 3-pointer by Gaddis gave Glenwood a 5-point lead early in the second, but Montrose was able to pound the ball inside to 5-11 sophomore Elise Hill on three straight possessions, knotting the score at 14. Kaitlinn Ammermann’s trey put the Indians in front, but 4 free throws from Madi Spence and a 3-point play on another drive by Gaddis netted the Demons’ a slim 21-19 halftime edge.

Hill had 9 points at halftime, when coach Gaddis made some adjustments. “They (Hill, 6-1 Emily Thorp, and 6-4 Elle Pace) were doing so well in the paint. Fronting them made a huge difference,” as the Demons held the Montrose bigs to just one basket in the 3rd quarter.

After 3 scoreless minutes to open the third, Jordan DeCrow hit a jumper, Gaddis made two free throws, and DeCrow’s 3-pointer pushed the Demons up by 7, 28-21 with 3:05 left. Unable to get the ball inside, Montrose began hoisting 3’s and after 3 misses, Ammermann got one to fall, cutting the lead to two before Hailey Armstrong made a free throw for a 29-26 lead at quarter’s end.

Thorp got free for a couple of baskets to give Montrose its first lead of the second half with 5:50 to go, but an inbounds pass from Laura McDermott to DeCrow cutting to the hoop put Glenwood up, 32-30 at the 3:45 mark. Montrose tied it moments later, but Gaddis took a couple dribbles to her left, pulled up for a triple and drained it for a 35-32 lead with 2:05 left.

Stephanie Rowen rattled in a tying three with 1:21 to go, bringing back a haunting memory for coach Gaddis. “When she bounced in that three, I was thinking of Rifle and Taylor Walters (whose last second trey beat the Demons last season), and I don’t want to feel that way again.”

Her daughter made sure that thought was a fleeting one as Gaddis splashed in her fourth 3-pointer to break the tie with 1:05 on the clock. “After airballing a couple,” earlier in the game, Gaddis was hesitant to fire from outside, she said, “But Spence set a screen and told me to shoot. We have more confidence in each other than in our selves.”

Another inside bucket by Thorpe cut the lead to one, but McDermott, just a 31 per cent shooter from the line this season, hit the front of a one-and-one with 31 seconds left, and Spence came out of nowhere to block Thorp’s shot at the other end. “I saw her get the ball and thought, ‘Not this time,’” Spence explained.

Montrose fouled DeCrow, Glenwood’s best free throw shooter, and she made them pay, icing the game with 10 seconds left. “We needed those,” Gaddis said. DeCrow, who’s been playing with a stress fracture in her left foot, immediately headed for some ice from trainer Marni Barton after the heart-warming trophy presentation.

Gaddis led the scoring with 21 points, hitting 4-of-6 triples. Spence and DeCrow each scored 9 with Madi pulling down 11 rebounds. Hill led the Indians with 11, just two in the second half, and Thorpe had 8 points.

The Demons received a bye as the number two seed (Broomfield, 23-0, is number one) in Region one of the 4A girls state tournament, and will host the winner of #7 Golden(12-11) and #10 Kennedy(12-11), Friday, Feb. 28 at Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium.

The Rifle Lady Bears (10-11) lost the third place district game, 63-46, to Palisade, and are also in region one as the 9th seed, traveling to Colorado Springs Metro #8 seed, Sierra (15-8) on Tuesday, Feb. 25. If the Bears win, they will face top-ranked Broomfield on Friday.


What started well, didn’t end so, for the top-seeded Rifle Bears, who saw their 11-game winning streak end in the WSL district championship game, 35-28, to the Durango Demons, seeded third after finishing second in the 5A Southwestern League.

The Bears got off to an impressive opening, scoring the last nine points of the first quarter for a 9-2, and led by nine after Tanner Quick’s hook shot dropped in on their first possession of the second period.

Durango, which was 1-for-8 with 4 errant 3’s to that point, broke a 10-minute drought with Terrance Trajillo’s triple, followed by two elegant scoring drives by Dane Mestas and the Rifle lead was sliced to 11-9 with 3:10 left in the half.

Rifle’s match-up zone shut out the Demons the rest of the quarter but the Bears managed just one free throw until Clint Farr’s buzzer-beating follow shot made it 14-9 at halftime.

Durango had just four baskets and no free throws in the first two quarters, but Rifle’s failure to capitalize at the offensive end would haunt them in the second half. Mestas hit 6 straight points, wrapped around a pair of shots by 6-7 Trent Andrews, and Durango finally took the lead, 19-17, with 3 minutes left in the third.

A driving leaner by Farr dropped through the net for a tie, but Isiah Mayberry scored on an in-bounds play, giving the Demons a 21-19 lead going into the final 8 minutes.

Mestas dropped in a three to start the quarter for a 5-point Durango lead, but Quick replied with a pair of offensive rebounds leading to put-backs, bring the Bears within one. Mestas drained another trey and Andrews hit a jumper for a 5-point Demon lead, 29-24 with 3:45 to play.

Wyatt Robinson’s baseline shot trimmed the lead to 3 at 1:28, but a trey for the tie by Farr fell short, and Mestas iced the game at the line, making 6 free throws in the final 46 seconds.

Mestas, a 6-2 senior, led all scorers with 22, getting 12 in the final 14-9 quarter for the Demons. Quick had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Rifle.

Despite the loss, the Bears (17-4) were awarded the 5th seed in region two of the 4A boys state tournament and will host number 12 Kennedy, which had a 3-20 (1-7) record in the 5A Denver Prep League, Wednesday, Feb. 26 at the Bears Den. If the Bears win, they will travel to #4 seed Mead (15-8), winner of the Tri-Valley League.

The Glenwood boys (15-7), after losing two straight in the district tourney, received an at-large spot as the number 11 seed in Region one, and will travel to Lakewood Wednesday, Feb. 26, to meet #6 Green Mountain (13-9), which finished third behind D’Evelyn in the Jeffco League. If the Demons win, they will go to Aurora to play #3 Vista Peak (18-5), winner of the 4A/3A Colorado 7 League.