GYPSUM (2/7/19) — Free throws should be easier than shots behind the three-point line, but both Glenwood Springs boys and girls basketball teams struggled early in the season at the charity stripe, while rising to the top of the Western Slope League standings largely on their long-distance shooting. Facing a pair of “trap” games at struggling Eagle Valley, both Demon squads held off Devil challenges with resurgent performances at the line. The boys won their thirteenth straight game, 66-49, overcoming a woeful 0-for-11, three-point stretch by making 10-of-11 free throws while the game was close.
“We’ve practiced shooting (free throws) a lot,” Lady Demons coach Rhonda Moser said after an 11-for-17 performance at the stripe helped her team repel an early challenge from last-place Eagle Valley (2-15, 0-9) and cruise to a 59-34 win. Glenwood (12-8, 8-1 WSL) trails Battle Mountain (12-7, 8-1) due to a tie-breaking 55-44 home loss to the Huskies in January when the Demons missed 14 of 19 free throws. “We spent so much time working against their 1-3-1 (defense),” Moser said, “we didn’t shoot as many free throws. We’ve regrouped after that loss and talked in the locker room about staying focused and not overlooking anyone.” Glenwood will get a chance to avenge that defeat on Tuesday at Battle Mountain.
GLENWOOD GIRLS 59, EAGLE VALLEY 34
Eagle’s Mady Callis, who in sixteen games before Thursday’s contest had made just 15-of-80 three-point tries, buried three straight in the first quarter, helping the home team to an early 8-6 lead and drawing the Devils within two after a 9-0 Glenwood run had restored the Demons advantage. Kate Shanahan’s two free throws capped a 5-for-5 Demon stretch at the line during the quarter, and her rebound putback with Logan Nieslanik’s steal and layup had the visitors comfortably ahead, 21-13 by quarter’s end.
In addition to the 65 percent free throw success for the game, Glenwood’s post players took the pressure off a 2-for-16, three-point night. To go with Shanahan’s four points, Qwynn Massie scored eight inside during the first quarter and led the team with 15, one behind her season high. Gracie Dietrich came off the bench in the second period and fueled an opening 10-0 run that essentially sealed the outcome with a pair of baskets including a coast-to-coast scoring drive after pulling down one of her three defensive rebounds.
“We had a size advantage,” Moser said, “and well-rounded scoring, with Emily (Worline) looking for 2-point range.” Worline, who leads all 4A players in three point shots (61-of-135), still scored a dozen, despite a 1-for-5 night beyond the arc. Ximena Gutierrez tallied 8 with Afton Larsen adding seven and Nieslanik six for the Demons. Callis made a fourth trey in the third period and led the Devils with 14 points.
GLENWOOD BOYS 66, EAGLE VALLEY 49
The Glenwood boys (16-4, 9-0) had a much harder time putting away a determined Devil squad (7-10, 2-7) that trailed by one, 30-29 after its first possession of the second half. A 9-0 run near the end of the third period, which featured a steal and 3-point play by Mitchell Burt, allowed the Demons to stretch the lead by quarter’s end to 47-34.
A pair of early three-pointers by Chano Gonzalez and back-to-back scores by Erwin Rodriguez near the end of the period helped the Demons overcome an 8-5 Devil first-quarter lead and start to pull away after the score was tied four times. But Eagle’s James Erickson got the home team’s first trey to fall just before the buzzer, closing the gap to 19-15.
Two Devil free throws opening the second quarter made it a two-point game, but four charity tosses by Angel Garcia and Gonzalez, with John Iuele’s inside score, helped Glenwood go up 30-20. However, the Devils ran off seven straight, including Jesse Moser’s trey, to trail by three, 30-27, at intermission.
After Tony Hernandez’ drive trimmed the lead to one, two more free throws by Gonzalez and back-to-back jumpers by Wyatt Ewer put Glenwood up 36-29, but a rare four-point play from Jacob Medina hauled the Devils within three again.
Ewer made a third straight mid-range shot, before it was Will Navarez’ turn to make two at the line for the Demons; then a steal by Navarez led to Ewer’s layup, giving the senior 8 points for the quarter. Burt closed a 9-0 finish to the stanza with a three-point play off a steal and a jump shot good for a 47-34 quarter lead.
Ewer popped in a pair of treys in the final frame, giving him 14 points for the game, matching his season high. Gonzalez led all scorers with 20, as he and Ewer combined to hit 4-of-6 three pointers; the rest of the team went 0-for-11, but the Demons did sink 14-of-19 at the line and only committed eleven turnovers for the game while forcing 20 by Eagle Valley. Burt scored 10, with 5 rebounds, while Holden Kleager pulled down 6 boards, and he and Iuele each scored six. Hernandez led the Devils with 15.
Glenwood hosts Steamboat Springs (17-3, 8-1) Saturday to likely determine the league championship.