PARACHUTE, Colorado - The last time the Grand Valley High School girls basketball team beat the Olathe Pirates was ...
"It was 2008," Grand Valley coach Mike Johnson said. "That's the year we went to the state title game."
No doubt, the Cardinals had plenty to be excited about after their 56-50 Class 3A Western Slope League victory at The Nest on Friday. Their aggressive play throughout the night forced Olathe into foul trouble, and Grand Valley's performance at the free throw line helped it close out the traditionally powerful Pirates.
"We kept playing the way that we have to play for four quarters," Johnson said. "I was pretty pleased with that."
Rocio Roman finished with 13 points and Kyra Chenoweth chipped in 12 to pace Grand Valley (11-4 overall, 9-3 league play), which drew 28 Olathe fouls and held off the Pirates with a 25-for-39 performance from the free throw line.
That came thanks to the aggressive play of the Cardinals, who drove the lane throughout the night, pressed the Pirates on defense and pounded the boards, outrebounding Olathe 39-36.
"We're used to doing that," said Roman, who hit 6 of 9 shots from the charity stripe in the second half. "We're aggressive against each other in practice and we knew we had to be aggressive against Olathe because they're a great team."
The Cardinals, despite the win, have a long way to go before thinking about the postseason. Grand Valley moved just a half game behind second-place Olathe (12-3, 10-3) in the league standings with the win. Moffat County (11-3, 10-1) is in first place.
Payton Grett had a game-high 18 points for Olathe (12-4, 10-3), which finished just 10 of 22 from the foul line and had three starters - Grett, Haley Turley and Brooke Cryer - foul out. The Pirates were in foul trouble from the start, and Grand Valley took advantage with a 9-for-15 performance from the foul line en route to a 26-19 halftime lead.
"We came out really confident," said Chenoweth, who hit 5-of-8 shots from the field and was 4 of 5 in the first half. "We stuck together when it counted and were able to keep fighting for four quarters."
Olathe made its big run at the start of the third quarter, as a layup from Grett with 2 minutes, 25 seconds left in the stanza gave the Pirates a 30-29 lead. But a layup on the other end from Haley Johnson, followed by a 3-point play from Roman, set the pace for Grand Valley to take a 36-34 lead headed into the fourth quarter.
The Pirates kept pushing, as Grett's fast-break layup with 3:55 remaining tied it at 44-all. But Grand Valley pulled away from there on - what else? - foul shots, hitting 10-of-15 attempts in the game's final 3:40. A 3-point play from Roman with 2:28 left pushed Grand Valley's lead to 50-44, giving the Cardinals all the cushion they would need.
Johnson finished with 11 points and Ashlynn Speakman chipped in eight for Grand Valley. Amanda Kinterknecht added 10 points and Kayley Archuleta eight for Olathe, who hit just 6-of-25 shots in the first half and finished 18-for-54 shooting (33.3 percent) for the game.
Santos Cornejo had a game-high 15 points to lead three Grand Valley players in double figures to help the Cardinals beat the Olathe boys, 45-28.
Trent Reidle added 13 points and Sam Parker chipped in 10 for Grand Valley (2-13, 2-10), which snapped a four-game losing streak with the victory. Reidle, Cornejo and Parker each hit a pair of 3-pointers.
Mitchell Carlson had seven points to pace Olathe (4-12, 3-10). Tanner Vernon added five points for the Pirates, who were limited to just four third-quarter points and hit just 4-of-16 shots from the free throw line.
Grand Valley continues league play at Gunnison today. Olathe has off until next Thursday when it also plays at Gunnison.