HIGHLANDS RANCH (2/26/16) – There was no role-reversal in the David versus Goliath first round match-up between Glenwood Springs (12-12) and Valor Christian (22-2), though the eighth-seeded Demons fired a few well-aimed missiles and had the number-one host school within range in the third quarter before falling 70-36 in the 4A state basketball playoffs.
“Turnovers put us in a hole,” Glenwood coach Cory Hitchcock said after the Eagles scored the first 18 points of the game, “but we stuck to our game plan and competed. I’m very proud of the boys.”
Valor Christian features a starting lineup with four players 6-4 to 6-5, and their length and height as well as what Glenwood scoring leader Cam Horning called “jitterbugs in the beginning” contributed to 13 first-quarter turnovers. The Demons average about 14 miscues per game and when Jalen Sanders turned one into a rousing slam dunk and then he and Dylan McCaffrey (headed to Michigan to play Division I quarterback) dropped in a pair of three’s, it appeared the rout was on.
A goal-tending call gave Luke Gair Glenwood’s first basket with 1:30 to go in the first, and Mason Yellico’s three made it 18-5 Valor after one quarter. The Demons fell behind by 15 three minutes into the second, but outscored the Eagles, 11-5 the rest of the way, pulling to within nine on Horning’s 3-pointer just before intermission. Horning, who was scoreless with five turnovers in the opening frame, bounced back with 12 points as Glenwood outscored Valor 16-12 for a 30-21 halftime deficit.
A pair of baskets by Horning, including a steal and layup, and Yellico’s free throw got the Demons as close as they would come in the game, trailing 32-26 two minutes into the second half. But McCaffrey drained another three, on his way to 19 points, to start a 7-0 Valor run. Yellico’s 3-point play with 4:25 left in the quarter trimmed the lead to ten, but that was the last gasp for the Demons. The Eagles outscored them 12-0 until Horning made a technical free throw after Sanders hung on the rim following an alley oop dunk.
Horning scored all six of Glenwood’s 4th quarter points to finish with 23, matching Sanders for the game’s scoring honors. “We did a good job coming back,” Horning said after he, Yellico, and Colin Brown wrapped up their Demon basketball careers. “Cam was great, Mason had a good game,” Hitchcock said, “and the younger guys gained experience for next year.” Two freshmen, Gair and Angel Garcia, saw extensive action along with sophomores Aaron Smith, Zach Johnson, and AJ Crowley, and juniors Jake Townsley and Carlos Nolasco-Montes.
The Rifle boys were defeated 65-50 by Evergreen to end their season 19-5. Rifle’s girls also lost to Evergreen, 41-32. The district champion Lady Bulldogs of Palisade won their first round game, 37-34, over Golden.
In the 3A Western Slope district semi-finals, the Coal Ridge boys advanced to the championship against Grand Valley with a 60-51 win over Roaring Fork. The Lady Titans were defeated by Moffat County,78-23.