ASPEN - Final-score results for the Grand Valley High School boys and girls basketball teams differed greatly Tuesday night. The coaches for both teams, however, were more than enthusiastic about the remaining season to come.
The Grand Valley girls had little trouble with Aspen at the Skier Dome, posting a 62-18 victory in a game that was lopsided from the beginning. Grand Valley's boys, however, trailed from the start and cut their deficit to single digits in the third quarter, but Aspen proved too strong, prevailing 43-22. It was the Class 3A Western Slope League opener for both teams.
Both coaches, especially boys first-year coach Scott Parker, came away from Tuesday's games feeling their teams are headed in the right direction.
"The kids are fighters; this is a proud group," said Parker, whose offense was limited without a field goal and to just one point in the final quarter. "I'm really excited about the way we're playing defense because I know that our offense will get better."
Tyler Scott finished with a team-high 10 points and Wyatt Hurst added four for the Cardinals (1-4 overall, 0-1 league play). Scott, a junior, is the team's tallest player at 6-foot-4, and Trent Reidle also brings back starting experience. For the most part, however, Grand Valley has been playing with a young lineup for much of the beginning of the season. Parker knows the team, as a whole, will get better.
"Our kids are going to go and play extremely hard every night they're on the floor," Parker said. "Tonight, they showed that."
Parker takes over Grand Valley's coaching duties for Jake Higuera, who was relieved of his coaching duties after three years.
Reidle and Hurst are the only seniors on the team. Other players who round out the roster include juniors Trent Hagerty, Luis Pena, Santos Cornejo, Ivan Arizaga, Scott and Cordero Orona, sophomores Leon Hernandez, Ben Coleman and Tyler Matthews and freshman Tanner Magee.
Other losses for Grand Valley include 79-12 to Holy Family, 73-37 loss to Colorado Academy and 53-50 at Paonia on Dec. 7. The Cardinals beat Plainview 61-33 on Dec. 6.
Another senior, Jacob White, will not play but is an honorary member of the team. White was severely injured in an accident at the high school in early November, ending his football season and his time playing high school sports.
Girls bounce back
Just starting, however, seems to be the roll the Grand Valley girls are on this season. After losing its season opener to Valley 63-38, the Cardinals (3-1 overall, 1-0 league) have bounced back to beat Class 4A schools Alamosa (39-31) and Northridge (50-34). Tuesday's game in Aspen was the best game of the season for Grand Valley, as the Cardinals reached a season-high in points and limited the Skiers to just two field goals in the first half.
Grand Valley returns four starters from last season, including senior Rocio Roman and juniors Ashley Radel, Ashlynn Speakman and Haley Johnson. Expected to contribute greatly, however, are senior Tariaana Lawrence, junior Lauren Paskett and sophomores Kyra Chenoweth and Jordan Scott.
Juniors Hanna Cornelius, Codi Metcalf and Vanessa Greene round out the Grand Valley roster.
The Cardinals don't have a lot of size, as Scott (5-10), Johnson (5-8) and Vance (5-7) are Grand Valley's tallest players. That said, coach Mike Johnson, as usual, has put an emphasis on aggressiveness underneath the basket so Grand Valley can rebound and start its up-tempo transition game.
"We've got to play fast, and we have to play physical because we're not big," coach Johnson said. "If our girls can set the right pace over the course of the season, I think we have a chance to be pretty scary."
"Our girls have some pretty high expectations this year," the coach said. "We feel as a team that if we continue to get better and stay healthy, we feel like we can make it to the Final 8 and the state tournament. That's our goal."
The Cardinals continue league play at Moffat County in Craig tonight, with the girls starting at 5:30 p.m. and the boys slated to tip off at 7 p.m. Grand Valley will play its first home game of the season on Dec. 21, when the boys and girls host Roaring Fork.