KMTS BASKETBALL: Clutch Free Throws Overcome Lujan Heroics as Glenwood Sweeps Rifle and Central

RIFLE (1/17/19) – Glenwood senior Mitchell Burt has made over 80 per cent of his free throws this season and an astonishing 57 per cent of his 3-point attempts, so his making four at the line in the final seconds of a 49-45 win at Western Slope League rival Rifle should not come as a surprise. Neither should his pair of first-half 3-pointers, including one with 20 seconds remaining that enabled the Demons to regain a 22-20 halftime edge.

What may have been unexpected and proved just as crucial were three key rebounds by Burt, who usually yields to Will Narvarez and AJ Adams in that department, only pulling down 30 in the Demons (10-3, 2-0 WSL) previous 11 games.

But with the rivals knotted at 43 and just under two minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Burt rebounded an errant 3-pointer, then missed one of his own, but that enabled Adams to follow up with a basket for a two-point Glenwood lead.

Moments later, Burt cleared the defensive glass following a Rifle trey that didn’t fall, was fouled and made both ends of a one-and-one with the Bears Den screaming for a miss. “Those were critical rebounds,” remarked Glenwood coach Fred Heisel.

Rifle’s Trey Lujan, whose 25 points kept the Bears within reach all game, hit a baseline jumper, cutting the Demon lead to 47-45 with a minute left, and a traveling call on Adams gave Rifle a chance to tie or take the lead. Garrett Robinson’s 3-pointer was off the mark, and again, Burt grabbed the rebound and was immediately fouled. Still in a one-and-one situation, Burt made both to ice the contest with seven seconds left. “We have to shoot 50 free throws every day in practice,” Burt said afterward. “Kuddos to coach for knowing how important they are.”

Free throws and 3-pointers by Robinson and Tido Ruiz had given Rifle a 20-19 lead just before Burt’s triple prior to halftime.

At the start of the third quarter, John Iuele knocked down a 3-pointer, which drew Rifle coach Kyle Daniell’s ire and a technical because a whistle appeared to precede the basket. Burt made both technical free throws, and Narvaez scored, making it a seven-point possession and a 29-20 Glenwood lead.

But Lujan refused to let the Demons extend their lead, scoring nine points and setting up freshman Kade Bishop’s 3-pointer as the Bears trailed by six, 38-32, into the final frame. Iuele tallied five with a pair of assists to Patrick Young and Adams to keep the pressure on.

The Bears (5-5, 0-1), playing their league opener, scored the first six points to tie the game, followed by an exchange of treys by Iuele and Lujan to maintain that status, setting up the thrilling finish.

“Our shots weren’t falling, we struggled not to foul and really had to grind it out,” Burt said of the Demons’ inability to pull away from the Bears, also acknowledging the contributions of “that really quick, number three (Lujan).”

Iuele, whose max effort required brief fourth-quarter respites, led the Demons with 18 points, followed by 12 from Burt, 9 by Adams and 6 from Young. Narvaez hauled down 9 rebounds to help Glenwood to its 30 to 11 domination of the boards. “That’s how we complete — on the boards; rebounding is our thing,” Heisel summarized.

GLENWOOD GIRLS 52, RIFLE 17

A 13-0 finish to the second quarter after Rifle (1-9, 0-1) had drawn within three points put Glenwood Springs (10-3, 2-0) in cruise control on the way to its second league victory, 52-17, at the Rifle Bears Den Friday night.

Six free throws helped the Lady Bears stay within striking distance despite shooting just 1-for-10 in each of the first-half quarters.

A three-pointer from Maddie Moser, who has made 8 of her last 11 triple tries, helped Glenwood to a quick 7-1 advantage, which increased to 11-2 before Jamie Caron’s driving jumper and two free throws closed the Bears within 11-6 at the quarter.

A follow-shot by Mackenzie Elizardo and two free throws from April Quinones offset Michelle Marshall’s basket in a sluggish second quarter that left the Demons up 13-10 with 2:44 left in the half.

Kenzie Winder nailed a 3-pointer and Natalya Taylor completed a 3-point play with a free throw, followed by a smooth inside move for a bucket by Kate Shanahan. Those 8 points came within a minute 15 seconds, for a 21-10 lead with 1:02 to go, but the Demons weren’t done.

Three turnovers forced by Glenwood’s press led to another five points, one coming when Winder’s steal led to a layup by Taylor and they reversed the order setting up Winder’s 3-point play for a 26-10 lead at intermission.

Rifle’s shooting woes continued into the second half as the Bears again made just a single basket in each quarter. Moser hit another trey to trigger a 10-0 finish to the third and a 40-13 lead at the quarter.

The final frame was more of the same as Moser added five points, including another 3-pointer, on her way to a career-high and team-leading 13 points.

Taylor finished with 11 points and 7 assists. Quinn Massie tallied 8 points with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. Winder scored 6 points, with 3 steals and 2 assists.

DEMONS AWAKEN LATE TO WIN TWO NON-LEAGUE GAMES AT GJ-CENTRAL

GRAND JUNCTION (1/18/20) — “Saturday afternoon games after an intense, late Friday night rivalry game… we had to fight it out,” coach Fred Heisel said after both boys and girls struggled in the first half against Grand Junction Central.

“We didn’t leave our defense in the locker room,” Heisel said of the boys 51-37 win, following a 44-23 victory by the girls that gives both teams a 10-3 mark going into their third league game at Eagle, Tuesday, January 21.

GLENWOOD GIRLS 44, CENTRAL 23

Down 7-1 early and trailing 9-7 after one-quarter, the Glenwood girls found their four game winning streak in jeopardy as they struggled through five lead changes and four, second-quarter ties before Kenzie Winder’s free throws gave them the lead for good 19-18, with 1:49 to go in the half.

Then the Demons suddenly rediscovered the magic that has coach Rhonda Moser thinking beyond just the regular season. “This (non-league game) is important – every win is important for post-season seeding.”

Defense triggered three straight turnovers, resulting in three-pointers by Winder and two by Maddie Moser in the half’s final 70 seconds. Winder entered the contest when starter and leading scorer Natalya Taylor picked up two quick, first-quarter fouls, and subsequently was scoreless through the first three periods. Moser is on an incredible 11-for-16 streak beyond the arc.
“Maddie has always thought of herself as a distributer, point-guard mentality,” her coach and mom said, delighted with hers and Winder’s confidence to take big shots.

The flurry put Glenwood up 28-20, offsetting 11 points from Central’s Leah Redding. In the second half, Moser and others held Redding without a basket until the Demons had built a 14-point lead with under 3 minutes to go in the game.

Winder hit a jumper, then connected with Gracie Dietrich on an in-bounds assist for a 36-24 third-quarter lead, holding the Warriors scoreless for the final six minutes.

Winder led the Glenwood scoring with a season-high 11 points, adding 3 assists. Dietrich had 10 points, as did Moser, including 3-of-5 treys. Michelle Marshall tallied 6 points and Kate Shanahan led the Demons with 6 rebounds.

“Kate and Quinn (Massie) have stepped into their roles,” Moser said of the Demon posts helping gain a 30-26 rebounding edge.

GLENWOOD BOYS 44, CENTRAL 23

Mirroring the girls’ early struggle, the Glenwood boys found themselves tied at a woeful 15 points after two quarters, making just 5 of 19 shots and committing 11 first-half turnovers.

Then, like the Lady Demons in the first game, a sudden surge turned things around. Trailing 22-21 with 1:33 to go in the third period, John Ieule completed a three-point play with a free throw for the lead. Patrick Young kept the Demons’ two-game perfect mark at the free throw line going and steals by Young and Mitchell Burt led to a pair of closing layups and a 30-22 lead at quarter’s end.

Glenwood held Central to a single free throw in the final 8 minutes, extending the lead to 18 by scoring the first ten points of the fourth quarter.

Ieule led the Demons with 15 points, also grabbing 6 boards, with Burt adding 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals. Young scored 7, took down 5 boards, and had 4 assists. Will Narvaez hauled in a dozen rebounds as the Demons continued to rule the glass, 39-15.

When Gabe Kimbrough made two free throws with 55 seconds left in the game, it capped back-to-back games of perfection at the line for the Demons, who were 9-for-9 at Rifle, and made all 17 at Central. “I’m not even gonna bring that up in the locker room,” Heisel stated, but emphasized free throw success is two-fold: “We work on it, and mental toughness.”

Glenwood resumes league play on Tuesday at Eagle Valley.

About Jack Jabbour

High school sports analyst
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