GLENWOOD SPRINGS (2/28/20) – The Glenwood Springs boys and girls basketball teams have something to prove, and each made strides toward doing so by advancing to the Sweet 16 of the 4A state playoffs this weekend. Both teams earned first-round byes with perfect 12-0 league records and avoided the second-round elimination that has plagued them in the past.

Natalya Taylor, who had moved to Utah and missed last season’s second-round loss by the Lady Demons to Holy Family, nevertheless was familiar with Glenwood’s history: “We’ve experienced quite a bit of trouble in the second round and wanted to prove we deserved a bye,” the Demon senior said after a 42-29 thrashing of Lewis-Palmer at home on Friday.

Mitchell Burt echoed that motivation, pointing out, “In Denver, they don’t believe in us,” after the boys crushed Weld Central 55-30 Saturday in Glenwood. The boys hadn’t gotten past the second round since coach Greg Hire’s 2010 team earned a bye with a 14-0 Western Slope season, then defeated Arvada 72-63 before falling to Thomas Jefferson in the Sweet 16.

The girls followed the same path in 2014 under coach Jacky Gaddis, going 14-0 in league and getting to the Sweet 16 with a 48-44 win over Golden. Palmer Ridge ended the Demons’ effort to regain the Great 8 years of the Selsor sisters under coach Bryan Derby in 08 and 09.


The 31st ranked Weld Central Rebels (15-10) had bounced the Rifle Bears (10-14, seeded 34th) from the first-round, 53-25 on Wednesday and seemed poised to repeat Golden’s second-round upset at Glenwood last season. The Rebels had three double-figure scorers, five players with 100 or more rebounds, a 6-9 shot blocker (45) in Daniel Begler, and hoisted over 500 three-pointers for the season.

Burt said the Demons “run the same (offensive) sets, so we knew what they’d do,” and teammate AJ Adams went right to the point, saying, “It was all defense” of Glenwood’s 55-30 victory.

Begler and his teammates, who had blocked 120 shots prior to the playoffs, began by rejecting four Demon attempts in the first period, but they had no answer for John Iuele, whose specialty, twisting drives in the paint, eluded the fly swatters and also turned two steals into layups. Meanwhile the Demon D forced five turnovers in the 10-5 quarter and held Weld Central to 2-for-11 shooting, including 0-for-4 from long distance.

In the second quarter, Burt matched Iuele’s 8 first-period points, including a pair of treys. AJ Adams scored on an offensive putback and turned a steal into another basket as the lead reached double digits. The Rebels finally broke through with a pair of treys, but Burt’s second bomb just before halftime produced a 27-11 Demon advantage.

At intermission, the high-scoring Rebels (60 points a game to Glenwood’s 52) had managed just four baskets in 22 tries. The third quarter was more of the same as the Demons forced six more turnovers, limiting Weld Central to 1-of-8 shooting in a 16-2 extermination for a 30-point lead going into the final quarter.

Iuele led the Demons with 13 points, adding 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals. Burt tallied a dozen, and said of the WSL’s leading assist-man, “John (Iuele) gets you some great shots.”

Adams had 9 points, with 9 rebounds, precisely his goal for the game: “My focus was to get rebounds and putbacks,” he said in leading the Demons’ 37-26 domination under the glass. The 6-9 Begler wound up with 3 blocks, but was limited to just one rebound and no points. Noah Sena and Bryce Andrews, two of the Rebels double-digit scorers, led the team with 6 points each. Sharpshooter Kevin Shaffer, primarily guarded by Burt, scored only on two free throws, going 0-for-7 from the floor before a fourth-quarter injury sidelined him with the Demons leading 45-15.

On Wednesday, Glenwood, into the Sweet 16 and seeded number two in the 48-team tournament, will host number 13 Green Mountain (18-6) , which defeated Centaurus, 50-46 in the second round.


In Friday’s second-round game after nearly six minutes of the first quarter, the 12th-seeded Lady Demons (21-3) held just a 2-1 lead over 21st Lewis-Palmer (15-10), which Taylor attributed to “nerves at the beginning.” She added, “Their posts were super strong,” limiting Glenwood to 2-for-16 shooting in an eventual 6-3 quarter, which was gradually increased until the Demons advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 42-29 win.

“It starts with our defense,” Taylor, who led the Demons with 13 points, said, as Glenwood shackled the Rangers’ shooters for a 1-for-9 first quarter, followed by 2-for-11 as the Demons nudged their lead to 15-8 at halftime, led by 5 points from Graci Dietrich and 4 at quarter’s end by Taylor. Coach Rhonda Moser pointed out, “They shut down our perimeter, so we went inside, and when they double-teamed, that opened Graci (Dietrich) for that sweet mid-range jumper, and Natalya doesn’t have a quit.”

Taylor opened the second half with a 3-pointer, expanding the Demon lead to double-digits, but after her jumper maintained that 20-10 edge with five minutes to play, Glenwood missed its next seven shots. The Demon press limited Lewis-Palmer
to just three attempts during that time period, and when Hadley Yellico fed Qwynn Massie inside to break the drought, Glenwood led 22-10 with 3:44 left in the quarter. Another turnover on the press led to Maddie Moser’s 3-pointer for a 15-point lead, whittled to 27-15 by period’s end.

Both offenses finally came to life in the final quarter, with Michelle Marshall and Dietrich each scoring 4 to help hold off any hopes of a comeback by the Rangers. Lewis-Palmer attempted 425 three-pointers during the season, but could hit just 2-of-13 against the Demons. “We were closing with both hands, and they couldn’t get their shots off,” Taylor explained.

Dietrich finished with 9 points and 9 rebounds, Marshall adding 8 points and 6 boards. Massie was limited to 2 points, but blocked two shots, and her 9 rebounds helped Glenwood dominate the glass, 47-to-29. Another factor was Glenwood’s 18 offensive second chances, scoring on nine of them.

In the Sweet 16 Tuesday, Glenwood will travel to fifth-seeded Eire (22-2), which defeated Longmont, 79-45 in the second round.