KMTS Basketball: Demons Shock Delta in District Playoffs


DELTA (2/19/13) — “To be honest, when our bus broke down (on the way to Delta), I thought it was a bad omen,” Glenwood boys coach Cory Hitchcock said after the last-seeded Demons turned the tables on Delta, 65-58 in overtime, to advance to the second round of the 4A Western Slope League District Tournament.

The victory over the sixth-seeded Panthers (11-9) means 11th-seed Glenwood ( 6-14) will play third-seeded Eagle Valley (14-5) Thursday at 7:30 at Central High School in Grand Junction.  

Glenwood, leading 31-26 at half on the strength of a 10-point second quarter by Jared Gambrel, scored the first eight points of the third period to build the lead to 13 when Pete Ray hit a jumper with 5:24 remaining.  Delta called time out and began to reverse the momentum with five quick points, so Hitchcock decided to play a deliberate style of offense to nurse the clock and the lead.  “We did a good job of being patient, but we’re a young team, and we made some young mistakes,” Hitchcock said.  The Demons turned the ball over a few times against the Panther press and missed their last seven shots, while Delta closed the gap to 39-35 going to the fourth quarter.

With 6-5 Eian Baier and 6-4 Douglas Hawkins dominating inside, the Panthers surged ahead with an 8-1 opening run and with 3 minutes left in the game, led by five, 47-42. Having been outscored 21-3 in the  previous 10 minutes, this was the point where Glenwood, based on its track record, could have packed it in for the season.

“Before the game, we talked about having strength of mind and heart,” Hitchcock said.  “We’ve been waiting all season to play a complete game.”

The comeback began when Brian Burbidge, limited all game by foul trouble broke the press with a pass to Logan Holmberg, who had been playing since the third quarter with four fouls, and the 6-5 senior — a football lineman — caught it like a receiver and scored with 2:50 to go.  Gambrel hit a couple of free throws, and Gabe Yen, who would score the final six points, made 4 straight while Delta was missing 2 of 3 to close the gap to 52-50 with 54 seconds left.

Yen, who also had 4 rebounds in the final minute, then stole the inbounds pass and scored to tie it with 50 seconds to play.  Glenwood missed three chances to go ahead in the final seconds, but held Delta to a lone 3-pointer that failed, setting up the four-minute overtime.

Burbidge drained a three on the Demons’ first possession, but Delta surged back into the lead when Gambrel missed two free throws.  The junior quickly redeemed himself, taking a Grant Fegan and splashing a high, arcing 3-ball for a 58-56 lead with 2:44 to go.

Yen, who scored ten points in the final 12 minutes of the game, got back-to-back layups off a Burbidge steal and a long pass following a rebound by  Cam Horning to push the lead to 62-56.  The Panthers, who missed 13 of 24 free throws in the game, made 2 of 4 in the next minute, with Gambrel matching that output for a 64-58 lead with 30 seconds remaining.  Horning could make just 1 of 4 in the final seconds, but it didn’t matter as Delta missed its final three 3-points, making them just 3 of 21 beyond the arc for the game.

When Burbidge stole the last second in-bounds pass, he tossed the ball high in the air, with the buzzer sounding as it came down and the Demons and their fans leaped to their feet in celebration.

Gambrel led all scorers with 23 points, and Yen finished with 12 points, 5 rebounds and 4 steals.  Fegan had 9, with Ray and Chris Thomas each scoring six.  Holmberg scored 4 and pulled down 7 rebounds.  Horning had 3 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals.  Hawkins’ 18 led the Panthers, who had defeated Glenwood by a total of 44 points in their two previous meetings.  The Demons, who had 39 turnovers in a loss to Palisade last week, had only four in the 4th quarter and overtime, and 15 for the game.

“No one expected us to do anything,” Hitchcock said afterwards, “but now we play Eagle on Thursday.  We’ve played them three times (losing by 12 to 13 points each time), and we’ve shown we can hang with the best teams. If we execute, we’ll give them a dog fight.”

The 5th-seeded Glenwood girls (12-6) had a bye Tuesday and will play 4th-seeded Durango (11-8), which competed in the 4A-5A Southwest League, but has been added to the 4A WSL Districts along with Montrose (#1, 15-4) and Cortez (#9, 1-17).  If the girls win, they’ll likely meet the number one ranked Indians at Colorado Mesa University Friday night.