LITTLETON (2/19/19) — Ximena Gutierrez paused at the top of the key, dribbling the basketball with one hand and gesturing to her teammates with a palm-down, “Stay cool, we’ve got this,” motion. After an eleven-turnover third quarter and a 3-pointer that drew host Littleton within two points, that show of poise and leadership by the 5-7 Demon senior was just what Glenwood Springs coach Rhonda Moser ordered as her team outscored the Lions, 13-1 the rest of the way to advance to the second round of the 4A state basketball playoffs, 40-26.
“We got frazzled and were beating ourselves,” coach Moser explained, “so we put Ximena at high post, and began to get the ball inside,” where 5-10 junior Qwynn Massie scored back-to-back buckets, expanding the Glenwood lead to 31-25. Littleton’s Ashton Haddock made one-of-two free throws with 5:22 to go in the game, and Littleton wouldn’t score again.
The game began with a banked-in 3-pointer from Emily Worline, who made just 2-of-16 long-distance shots in the Demons’ final regular-season loss to Palisade last Friday that dropped Glenwood (14-9) to number 34 in the 48-team state playoff. Littleton (9-15) had beaten the Bulldogs in November, 43-24, but lost its last four games, finishing 4-8 in the Jeffco League, yet was awarded the number 31 seed, and so got to host Glenwood.
Neither team scored for the next three minutes of the first quarter until Gutierrez dropped in a 3-ball followed by a short jumper from Graci Dietrich. Littleton shot 0-for-7 and trailed 9-1 going into the second period.
The shooting futility continued as the two teams went scoreless for the next four minutes, Glenwood missing seven three-point attempts since Gutierrez had given her team a 6-0 first-quarter lead. With 3:50 to go in the half, Worline found Ashley Barragan on a slick, back-door cut, the only layup the visitors would make all game.
Littleton scored its first basket of the contest nearly 13 minutes into the game, followed immediately by a smooth 3-pointer from the corner by Worline, giving Glenwood a 14-3 lead. After that, coach Moser remarked, “We tried to give it away.”
Jasmyn Thompson-Harvey, who averaged 3 points a game during the season, scored 8 in the second quarter as the Lions began to close the gap. Only a trey from Afton Larson with 1:10 to go kept the lead a respectable 17-10 at halftime, though Glenwood made just 6-of-27 shots in the first half.
The third quarter was a disaster for the Demons as they turned the ball over eleven times, five against Littleton’s press, making just one shot for the first five minutes of the period, a put-back by Gutierrez. The Lions eventually closed within three, 25-22 when Ellie Fuchs made a 3-pointer with 18 seconds to go, but Massie held off the comeback with a pair of baskets, good for a 27-22 lead at quarter’s end.
J’la Ervin’s 3-pointer, her only points of the game, shaved the lead to 27-25 just a minute into the final frame, but the Demons responded by holding the Lions to one free throw the rest of the way. Meanwhile Massie extended the lead to 31-25 and Logan Nieslanik drained a trey for an 8-point lead with 4:35 to go.
After settling for outside shots all game against Littleton’s 1-3-1 defense, Glenwood finally began to drive, resulting in 5-of-8 free throws in a two-minute stretch that fueled a 9-0 finish to the game.
“I love these girls immensely,” Moser said. “They’re fighters and play with passion and perseverance.” In the second round for the second straight season, they will need all that and a reduction in the season-high 30 turnovers committed against the Lions. The Demons forced 27 miscues themselves, with Gutierrez grabbing six steals to go with 8 points and 11 rebounds. Massie led the scoring with 10 points, pulling down 7 boards and Barragan 6, as Glenwood dominated the glass, 40-26. Worline had 9 points on 2-of-8 treys, and Larson contributed 6 points and 5 assists.
On Friday, the Lady Demons will travel to Broomfield to take on number two-seeded Holy Family (18-5), which started the season 2-4, but has won its last 11 games and tied 5A Windsor for the Tri-Valley League championship.
The Glenwood boys (18-7) are seeded seventh and have a first-round bye, awaiting the winner of Wednesday’s contest between number 26 Golden and number 39 Pueblo Centennial. Both the Lady Demons Friday game at Holy Family, and the boys home game Saturday will be broadcast on KMTS.