KMTS BASKETBALL: Glenwood Teams Finish Perfect 12-0 League Seasons

GLENWOOD SPRINGS (2/21/20) – The Glenwood Springs boys basketball team was just 30 seconds from its first defeat in sixteen games when John “Iceman” Iuele stepped back on the right wing and launched a 3-pointer for the tie. Swish! “We worked so hard, we weren’t going to give it up (an undefeated Western Slope League season) in our last game,” Iuele said after his Demons completed a comeback from ten points down in the third quarter for a 53-47 overtime win over Palisade in front of a packed house on senior night.

The Glenwood Lady Demons held just a two-point lead at halftime, but a 19-2 third-quarter explosion provided the boost they needed for an eventual 45-25 win over the Bulldogs and an identical 20-3, 12-0 WSL record with the boys. “It’s a lot more fun to celebrate with all of us,” coach Rhonda Moser said following the boys’ OT victory, after which both teams cut down one of the nets at either end of Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium.

GLENWOOD BOYS 55, PALISADE 47 (OVERTIME)

“It’s not a situation we want to be in, being down 14,” Heisel said after his team outscored Palisade in the overtime period 10-2, following a 14-9 fourth quarter capped by Iuele’s 3-pointer just to get there.

“Sometimes you have to grind it out,” Mitchell Burt, whose defense on high-scoring Bulldog senior Watts Erb was a key factor in the Demon comeback from the wrong end of a 17-5 first quarter. Erb scored nine of the Bulldogs’ points in that frame, making all four of his shots. He managed to get off just one more attempt, a missed three pointer, for the rest of the contest. “Mitch can lock up anybody,” Iuele said. Burt returned the compliment, speaking of “The Iceman’s” crucial 3-pointer: “John’s a clutch player and got the momentum going to overtime.”

Despite Erb not getting off a shot in the second quarter, Palisade expanded its lead to 26-12 as Kenny Seriani came off the bench for seven points. Iuele shaved four points off with a pair of baskets and Burt made two free throws to cut the lead to 26-18 at the half. The Bulldogs still led by ten, 32-22 midway through the third when Iuele started a 9-4 finish to the quarter following a steal by Blake Nieslanik, which included buckets by Burt and Will Narvaez. Glenwood still trailed 36-31 going into the fourth.

The Demons, who had missed their first ten tries beyond the arc, got their first one from an unlikely source: senior Gabe Kimbrough, who got the start on senior night, but was replaced as Palisade pushed its opening advantage to 13-3, and had not played again until the final quarter. Moments after giving Burt a breather, Kimbrough, averaging less than two points a game for the season took a pass from Iuele and drilled a 3-pointer, bringing Glenwood within four points, 40-36, with 6 minutes left in the game. The Demons had not been that close since Erb’s 3-pointer gave the Dogs a 5-1 lead two minutes into the contest.

Patrick Young’s banker’s hour trey at the four-minute mark cut the Palisade lead to 42-39, but the Demons missed their next three shots until Burt and Narvaez forced a turnover and Young buried another triple, slicing the lead to one with 60 seconds left.

Palisade’s Kevin Loya hit a shot to restore the margin to three when Iuele demonstrated the “ice in my veins,” as he said in a post-game interview.

Down 26-18 at halftime, Heisel said the locker-room exhortation was simply to “outwork your man, get rebounds, and the offense would take care of itself. It took a little longer, but Patrick and Gabe hit three’s and Mitchell did a great job on (Erb). We wanted to keep that tradition going, cutting down the nets, that began with coach (Cory) Hitchcock.”

Glenwood took its first lead since AJ Adams began the night’s scoring with a free throw when Iuele drove the paint and dished to Narvaez. Seriani, who led Palisade with 18 points, countered with the only Bulldog score in the four-minute OT, and Young followed with an assist on Burt’s jumper for a 49-47 Demon lead. Loya missed a three with Narvaez tipping the rebound to Burt prior to Heisel’s timeout with 1:43 left in the extra period.

The Demons ran thirty seconds off the clock before Burt found Adam Schrader on the weak-side for a layup and a four-point lead. Palisade missed a pair of treys and Iuele calmly sank two free throws with 14 seconds to go for an insurmountable 53-47 lead.

Iuele, who was scoreless in the first quarter, finished with 16 points and 5 assists. Young tallied 11, Burt 10, and Narvaez 8, also helping Glenwood edge the Bulldogs on the boards with 6 rebounds.

GLENWOOD GIRLS 45, PALISADE 25

Coach Moser acknowledged the difficulty of “trying to beat teams the second time around,” as for the fourth time in six such games, the Lady Demons fell behind after the first quarter, 9-7. Adding the scores of all six, second-time initial periods, Glenwood has been outscored 71-59.

“We came out slow,” Moser said, “but once they get their groove, they keep pushing.” A baseline jumper by Ella Johnson tied the score early in the second quarter and launched a 9-0 start that included Natalya Taylor’s steal and layup, a follow-shot by Qwynn Massie, and Taylor’s 3-pointer for a 16-9 advantage just two-and-a-half minutes into the period.

The Demons had missed their first six 3-point tries, and aside from another by Taylor to start the second-half scoring, the rest of the Demons would be 0-for-11 until senior Zeva Carruth brought her teammates leaping off the bench with a fourth-quarter baseline trey with 2:57 remaining in the game. “Zeva – that was so fun,” Moser said. “She’ll never forget that shot.”

Glenwood was clinging to a 16-14 halftime lead after Taylor scored 7 in the Demons’ 9-5 second quarter when, just as in Steamboat Springs last weekend, a third-quarter offensive erruption, combined with a devastating press, decided the outcome.

Tied 24-all at the half, the Demons shut out the Sailors, 18-0 a week ago, and in their final regular season game, with a home playoff game in the balance, Glenwood nearly matched that feat, burying the Bulldogs, 19-2 in the third quarter.

Taylor started a 6-0 run with her second 3-pointer, then after Hadley Yellico made a free throw (just the Demons’ third trip to the line in the game), found Massie with an inbounds pass and the senior made a difficult, twisting bank shot for an 8-point lead, 22-14. Palisade scored its first point with a free throw at the 4:19 mark, and Glenwood poured in the next nine, including four points from Taylor, Maddie Moser’s trey, and a jumper by Graci Dietrich for a 31-15 advantage. By quarter’s end the Demons had padded the lead to 35-16.

“It’s been six years since the Glenwood girls went 12-0 and won the league,” Moser said, but said the win was important for another reason. A loss “would’ve been a huge hit” to the Demons’ chances of receiving a first-round bye. Now, instead of playing on Tuesday, they can “prepare for next Friday,” after CHSAA releases the playoff bracket on Sunday.

Taylor led the Demons with 16 points and also had 7 steals and 4 assists. Massie scored 8 points and added to her league-leading totals with 9 rebounds and a blocked shot. For the game, Glenwood forced 38 Bulldog turnovers, 19 coming via the press. Moser, who also had 6 points and 4 assists, grabbed three steals, as did Johnson and Yellico.

“An amazing season,” Moser reiterated, made all the more fitting by a full house there to celebrate senior night. “I haven’t ever seen the gym that loaded,” Moser said following the halftime ceremony honoring thirteen seniors between games: Carruth, Michelle Marshall, Kate Shanahan, Taylor, Yellico and Massie for the Lady Demons, and Adams, Burt, Young, Kimbrough, Schrader, Narvaez, and Iuele for the boys.

About Jack Jabbour

High school sports analyst
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