KMTS Basketball: GLENWOOD BOYS EARN PAYBACK OVER PALISADE

GLENWOOD SPRINGS (2/9/16) – “We were upset about the loss in Palisade,” Glenwood senior Cam Horning said after his second-half heroics insured the outcome would be different in a tightly contested duel that wasn’t decided until his two free throws with 14 seconds left insured a 59-54 win over the Bulldogs.

The victory, after ten ties and nine lead changes, gives Glenwood (10-9, 8-5 Western Slope League) an outside chance at overtaking Palisade (10-9, 9-4) for the second seed behind Rifle (17-2, 12-1) going into next weekend’s 4A District playoffs at Colorado Mesa University.

This contest, the final home game at Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium for Gelnwood seniors, Horning, Mason Yellico, and Colin Brown, followed the pattern of the previous encounter in Palisade, a 63-61 loss, until the ending.

The teams traded the lead five times in the first quarter before the Bulldogs seized command with ten straight points following a Horning 3-pointer to start the second quarter. With Ian Schierland scoring nine points, Palisade made 8-of-10 shots to go ahead 29-19 with 3:33 left in the half. Then the Bulldogs reverted to their season-long struggle from the free throw line, going 0-for-4 to open the door to a Demon comeback.

Two free throws by freshman Luke Gair and a press-breaking layup from Yellico to Carlos Nolasco helped the Demons cut the lead in half by intermission. As has happened so often in his career, Horning made the third quarter his personal showcase. The league’s scoring leader was just 2-for-9 from the floor in the first half (for 6 points), but hit 3 of his first 4 to start the third including a 3-pointer and a 3-point play that tied the score at 34 at the 4:37 mark.

A key moment occurred following a turnover when Horning tried to force his way between two defenders and was called for double-dribble. Demon coach Cory Hitchcock briefly subbed his senior captain out, and had a one-on-one conversation on the bench before sending him back onto the court. With Palisade ahead, 40-36, Horning again drove into the lane, but this time kicked the ball out to a waiting Aaron Smith on the baseline, where the sophomore sharpshooter splashed in a 3-pointer, then converted the rare 4-point play to tie the score after being fouled by P.D. Riddle, the last-second hero of Palisade’s previous win over Glenwood.

Following the Bulldogs’ missing the front end of a one-and-one opportunity, Horning drained a pair from the stripe to take a 42-40 lead into the final quarter. Palisade tied the score twice more, the last time at 5:03 on a basket by John Goff, but could never wrest the lead from Glenwood as back-to-back scoring drives from AJ Crowley put the Demons ahead for good, 48-46 with 4:40 to play.

Horning scored his final basket on his home court with 3:15 to go, then made 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch. With his teammates making just 4-of-8 free throws in the closing minutes, Palisade fought back. Reminiscent of Riddle’s late 3-pointer that won the game in Palisade with 14 seconds to play, Tanner Hall banked in a 3-pointer with 23 seconds left that cut Glenwood’s lead to one, 55-54. Smith made one free throw after an immediate foul, giving the Bulldogs a chance to tie or take the lead.

But an aggressive, trapping press forced a poor Palisade pass that was grabbed by Yellico, who evaded Bulldog attempts to foul him, dribbling an additional 8 seconds off the clock, passing to Horning who was grabbed and made both free throws for a 58-54 lead with 14 ticks left. The press paid dividends again, with a Horning steal at 10 seconds, and he made one –of-two to seal the outcome.

“I’m very proud of him, all my seniors, and the whole team,” Hitchcock said after the Demons held on for the victory, having failed to overtake Rifle in their previous home game that saw them come from 10 points behind to tie it with a minute left.

Horning, who earlier this season passed 1,000 points in his Demon career, wound up with 23, giving him 460 for this season, almost 100 more than his junior year. He also helped Glenwood win the battle of the boards with the taller Bulldogs, 37-30, by grabbing 11 rebounds. Four Demons tallied seven, Smith, Yellico, Crowley, and Angel Garcia. Schierland led Palisade with 21, which after having made 18-of-24 free throws (75 per cent) in the previous two-point victory, missed 10 of 17 at the line, much closer to its season-average of 50 per cent.

On Saturday, Palisade hosts Eagle Valley (5-12, 3-8), which defeated the Bulldogs 64-55 in January. Glenwood travels to Steamboat Springs (9-9, 6-6), which not only gave the Demons their first league loss, 46-42, earlier this season, but held Horning to his season-lowest 14 points on January 16.

PALISADE 60, GLENWOOD GIRLS 31

The Glenwood girls (3-16, 2-11) again had no answer for Palisade, which increased its league record to 13-0 (17-2 overall) with a 60-31 win that likely insures the Lady Demons will not have to face the Bulldogs a third time in the district tournament. If Summit (3-8, 7-10) loses its final three games, and Glenwood wins in Steamboat (7-11, 5-7) Saturday, the Demons could tie the Tigers for a chance to play Battle Mountain (5-13, 3-10) in a pigtail game to determine which team gets the last district tournament seed. Then it would come down to a tie-breaker between Summit and Glenwood since the teams split their two games this season; Battle Mountain, which plays second-place Rifle (15-4, 11-2) Saturday, defeated Glenwood twice and holds the tie-breaker over the Demons.

In the final home game for seniors Megan Uren, Madi Hert, Makena Warren, and Vanessa Davila, the Demons, after falling behind 11-2 in the first period, played progressively better in each subsequent quarter, scoring 8, 10, and 11 points respectively. There was no catching the Bulldogs, however, as Emma Mueller came off the bench in the second quarter to hit a pair of three’s, scoring 8 of Palisade’s 19 for a 30-10 halftime lead.

Warren and sophomore Madi Bolitho each sank a 3-pointer in the third and Warren nailed another in the final frame to match sophomore Tatum Peterson’s 8 points to lead the Demon scoring. Ten Bulldogs got into the scoring column for Palisade, led by 13 from Christa Brown, 12 by Aspen Guray, 10 from Mueller, and nine by Ashlyn Brown.