KMTS BASKETBALL: Lady Demons Fall in Battle of Unbeatens to Mesa Ridge

GLENWOOD SPRINGS(2/15/14) — The Glenwood Springs Lady Demons finally have the opportunity to learn from a loss. In their 20th and last game of the regular season, the Demons gave another undefeated team, second-ranked Mesa Ridge from Colorado Springs a four-quarter battle before falling 62-53.

“There’s no negative tonight,” Glenwood coach Jacky Gaddis said after her team held a one-point lead when daughter Delaney hit her seventh 3-pointer of the game for a 47-46 lead with 55 seconds left in the third quarter to go ahead for just the second time in the contest. Delaney, who scored a career-high 31 points, echoed her coach’s thoughts: “To lose to a team of this caliber gives us more confidence, knowing we can play with them.”

“You don’t realize how big those girls are,” coach Gaddis said of the Grizzlies’ front line of 6-4 sophomore Kylee Shook and 6-1 senior Samantha Rudd. “But we matched their power.” With 6-foot Madi Spence pulling down 15 rebounds, the Demons actually won the battle of the boards, but couldn’t match Mesa Ridge’s scoring balance. “It was hard to get it in to our bigs,” Delaney said, as Shook, who has 93 blocks this season, added 4 and tipped several passes along with 4 steals.

In the third quarter, with Glenwood battling to come back from an 8-point deficit, Spence had all three of her shots blocked — something that’s rarely happened this season. Still, with Gaddis raining in 4 consecutive treys, the Demons outscored Mesa Ridge 13-4 to gain the lead before a free throw by Gabby Purnell tied it at 47 going into the final quarter.

“It was especially nice to be in a zone against this team,” Gaddis said of her 7-of-12 shooting beyond the arc. Her previous best 3-point performances were a pair of 4-for-5 games. And Glenwood needed their senior point guard’s brilliant performance because the inside game just wasn’t there due to the looming presence of Shook and Rudd.

The Grizzlies had only one of their 22 wins by less than 15 points, a one-point win over Valor Christian, but after going up 5-0 at the game’s outset, Glenwood tied it on Gaddis’s first-three pointer, and trailed by one, 13-12 when the senior point guard splashed in another just before the quarter ended.

A pass from Jordan DeCrow to Laura McDermott resulted in the Demons’ only first-half lead on the first possession of the second period, but Mesa Ridge scored 6 straight, and when Shook dropped in a 3-pointer, led 24-18 with 4:30 to go. Gaddis quickly answered with her third trey of the half, and a basket and two free throws by Hailey Armstrong pulled the Demons within one, 30-29 at half.

Tiffani Jackson, Rudd, and Shook made 6 consecutive shots to open the third and the Grizzlies led 42-34 with 4:25 remaining before Gaddis ignited the run for the lead with 55 seconds left.

The two teams were within two points throughout the final quarter until Shook hit a jumper for a 55-51 lead with 2:40 to go. Glenwood managed just two free throws the rest of the way while Purnell dropped in 7-of-8 from the line in the final minute to make the final score look more one-sided than it ever was in the game itself.

Hailey Armstrong contributed 8 points and 9 rebounds, but Spence made just 2 of 9 shots and also missed 5 of 7 free throws, finishing with a season-low of 6 points, only the 4th time in 20 games below double-digits. Jordan DeCrow, who regained her scoring touch with a total of 27 points in wins over Palisade and Rifle this week, missed all six of her 3-point attempts and finished with 4 points.

The Grizzlies had four players in double figures, led by 21 from Shook, who also had 9 rebounds. Rudd, battling foul trouble all game, still had 14, with Jackson adding 12 and Purnell tallying 11.

The Demons, 19-1, will likely earn the first seed in the Western Slope District Tournament, which begins next Thursday at two venues, Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, and Palisade High School. Pairings and sites will be announced by CHSAA Sunday afternoon.

“This game gave us more confidence that we can contend for the state championship,” coach Gaddis reiterated. “It’s gonna matter how we finish, not how we did tonight. Bring it on.”