KMTS BASKETBALL: Demons Complete 6-0 District Tourney “Preview”

GLENWOOD SPRINGS (1/25/14) – “A District Tournament” preview — that’s what Glenwood boys coach Cory Hitchcock called the Demons 3-games-in-3-days gauntlet, and with some fourth-quarter heroics, both girls and boys teams made it through unscathed, sweeping Summit and Eagle Valley on the road and surviving a severe challenge by Steamboat Springs in Saturday afternoon’s finales at home.


Coach Hitchcock reached back to the past in an effort to help his team in the future: “I call in players who’ve helped build this program, and Freddie Flohr talked about being a Demon is a family,” in a pregame talk to the current Demons, who were facing their third game in three days. “We treat it like a district tournament, three days in a row, and today (after winning a two-point game at Eagle Friday night) we were playing for the championship,” Hitchcock said after his team overcame a see-saw battle, riding a 3-point barrage from Pete Steckler in the final quarter, for a 55-43 win over the Sailors (9-4, 4-3 WSL), one of four Western Slope teams coming into the day with two losses.

Perhaps it was the effects of back-to-back road games, followed by a day contest, or more likely the loss to illness and injury of their two top scorers, but the Demons fell behind Steamboat 8-0 in the first three minutes of the first quarter. Their biggest inside threat, 6-6 Zack Peterson started an 11-0 comeback, sinking a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Five different players scored in a variety of ways before the Sailors’ Carter Kounovsky completed a 3-point play at the line to knot the score at 11.

It was the Demons’ turn to start fast in the second quarter with a drive from Jake Gentry and Steckler’s first trey of the day putting Glenwood up by 5. For the next 5 minutes, the Demons went cold, and Steamboat seized the momentum with the aid of a lapse by freshman Dante Sparaco, who rebounded a missed Sailor free throw and, in a reflex action, put it back off the glass, scoring two points for Steamboat in a 14-0 stretch. Matt Lanning had 6 points off the bench as the Sailors went up by ten, 30-20, before Evrett Marr’s free throws closed the gap to 8 at the half.

After intermission, Glenwood reversed “Old Man Mo,” scoring the first 12 points of the third quarter including a trey by Friday’s scoring hero, Jared Gambrel, and a 3-point play by Marr that regained the lead for the Demons with 1:58 remaining. Garrett Bye, the Sailors’ 6-9 junior, sliced the lead to 34-32, with their lone basket of the quarter. Those were his only points of the second half as Will Gray “played great defense on their bigs,” Hitchcock said. The night before Gray, a 6-6 junior shut down Eagle Valley’s big man, Travis Edgar, enabling the Demons to prevail, 43-41.

Glenwood pushed its lead to ten, with an 8-0 run to start the final quarter — six of those points came on back-to-back 3’s by Steckler on passes from Gambrel, halted by Lanning’s three-point play — only to see Steckler splash down his 4th trey of the game at the 5-minute mark to put the Demons up 45-35. Steckler was just 2-of-11 from downtown in the previous two games, but Hitchcock told him, “Shoot with confidence. I don’t care how many you miss.”

Steamboat got back within 7, but Glenwood made 7-of-11 free throws in the final minute to win its third in a row after a stretch where they had lost 3-of-4. “This is battle-testing us right now,” Hitchcock explained after the Demons improved to 7-2 in the WSL and 11-3 on the season. “They showed they can still win with Cam (Horning) and Brian (Burbidge) out.” Steckler’s 12 (on 4-of-6 treys) led the scoring, followed by Marr with a career-high 11 points. Peterson scored 9 with 10 rebounds, and Gray, in addition to holding Bye to 6 points and 4 rebounds, tallied 8.

The Demons now get a well-deserved rest, hoping to get their two scoring leaders, Horning and Burbidge back for next Thursday’s game at Rifle.


After surviving an 18-8, 13-turnover third-quarter stumble in Eagle the previous night that also included missing 14 of 22 free throws, Glenwood Lady Demons coach Jacky Gaddis was only partly kidding when she said before the Steamboat game, “What we’ll do today is close our eyes when we shoot free throws and try to commit as many turnovers as possible,” in hopes it would have the reverse effect.

Instead, the Demons had three, single-digit scoring quarters against a Sailor team in the bottom half of the WSL standings, riding a 12-5 second quarter to a junior high-like 28-20 win. Hailey Armstrong and Madi Spence combined for 10 of those points that gave Glenwood a 17-7 lead at halftime, but the Sailors’ man-to-man continued to give the Demons fits after a brief 5-0 flurry put Glenwood up by 13 midway through the third quarter. Glenwood had 4 turnovers and went scoreless the rest of the way and Steamboat trimmed the lead to 22-15 heading into the final frame.

Despite scoring just 6 points in the last quarter on 1-of-6 shooting, while missing 5 of 9 free throws, the Glenwood defense held Steamboat to a single basket, and the Demons emerged with the win, giving them a two-game edge over Eagle Valley and a 14-0 (9-0 WSL) season record.

Glenwood’s 28 total points was by far the lowest scoring output, eclipsing the 45-37 struggle with Palisade. Spence had 10 points and 8 rebounds, with Jordan DeCrow scoring 7, and Armstrong adding 5, along with 11 rebounds.

The Demons, perhaps worn down by playing three games (the first two on the road) in three days, now get a four day break in the action before traveling to Rifle next Thursday.