PARACHUTE, Colorado - Coal Ridge High School's girls basketball team halted Grand Valley's running game early on Tuesday night. By the end of the fourth quarter, the Cardinals had run away with the game.
Lauren Paskett finished with a team-high 11 points and Haley Johnson scored five of her eight points in the fourth quarter for Grand Valley, which rallied from an early nine-point deficit for a 49-43 Class 3A Western Slope League victory at The Nest.
"We finally got it in our heads that we can't worry about the other team's toughness and we can't worry about the other team's fouls. We had to start playing our game," Johnson said. "We just stepped up our intensity."
That's for sure.
Grand Valley (7-3 overall, 5-2 3A WSL) trailed 23-14 at the start of the second quarter, but the Cardinals turned up the defensive pressure with close to five minutes left before halftime.
However, Coal Ridge bounced back by scoring the final five points of the first half to pull ahead, 29-23.
The Cardinals came out after the intermission with an inspired defensive effort, allowing only four second-half field goals and just one in the fourth quarter.
The defensive pressure got Grand Valley's running game going, as a spinning layup from Paskett put the Cardinals up 36-32 with 2 minutes, 31 seconds left in the third.
Alicia Hampton answered with a fast-break layup and a 3-pointer with 24 seconds on the clock to put the Titans up 37-36 headed in the fourth. But after a foul shot from Emma Speer extended Coal Ridge's lead to two points, Johnson nailed a 3-pointer and a pair of foul shots with 1:01 left to cap a 13-1 run over the next five minutes.
"They did a good job of pressing us the whole game, and that kind of wore us down after a while," first-year Coal Ridge coach Damon Martinez said. "When you don't have legs, you're not going to make those shots that were going in during the first half. I think we sustained that a little in the third quarter, but we didn't have much left by the fourth."
Cassidy Blackard finished with a game-high 14 points, Hampton had nine and Paige Ryan chipped in 12 - 11 of her points coming in the first half - for Coal Ridge (4-5 overall, 3-5 3A WSL). The Titans held a 37-36 edge after three quarters, but Grand Valley didn't allow another field goal until Blackard's layup with 39 seconds remaining.
"In the first half, they had numerous opportunities to run on us because we gave the ball away a lot and made a ton of silly passes," Grand Valley coach Mike Johnson said. "In the second quarter we calmed down a little, and we came out of the locker room after halftime fired up at ourselves."
Tyler Scott finished with 20 points and a game-high 20 rebounds, and Grand Valley rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to earn its first victory of the season - a 67-59 triumph over Coal Ridge in the Class 3A Western Slope League game.
Scott's steal and layup, which he converted into a 3-point play with seven minutes, 14 seconds remaining in the game, gave the Cardinals the lead for good and sparked a 14-0 run, putting Grand Valley ahead 58-46 with 4:33 remaining.
A pair of foul shots from Alec Herrera brought Coal Ridge (1-8, 1-4) within 60-53 with 1:09 remaining, but the Titans could get no closer.
"We've been battling adversity all year," said first-year Grand Valley coach Scott Parker, whose team improved to 1-9 overall (1-6 in league). "We've been getting better. We just haven't been able to get over the top until now. I'm real happy for the kids."
Trent Reidle added 15 points and Sam Parker chipped in 14 for Grand Valley, which hosts Gunnison in another league game Friday night.
Herrera scored a game-high 22 points and Richie Winkler added nine for the Titans, who play their next league game at home Friday night against Cedaredge.
Coaches and school officials honored former Grand Valley football player Jake White prior to the Coal Ridge/Grand Valley boys game.
White, who was hospitalized after suffering a severe leg injury in auto shop class prior to the Cardinals' first-round Class 2A state football playoff game against Middle Park, limped out to the pregame ceremony without help.
He was presented with a shadow box which encased his No. 33 football jersey and a photo from his senior season of playing football at Grand Valley.
Mike Johnson, Grand Valley's football coach, presented White, who is also using a wheelchair during the recovery period, with the keepsake.
Prior to the boys and girls doubleheader Tuesday night, the school held a spaghetti-feed fundraiser. All proceeds from the fundraiser went toward White's medical bills.