DELTA, Colorado - The Glenwood Springs Demons left a disappointing regular season behind, surviving in overtime Tuesday night to upset Delta 65-58 in the opening round of the 4A District 8 basketball tournament.
Led by a hungry group of senior players who weren't quite ready to call it quits, Glenwood rallied from five points down late in the fourth quarter to knot it at 52-all at the end of regulation.
The Demons, entering Tuesday's play-in game as the bottom seed in the 11-team tournament, outscored the No. 6 Panthers 13-6 in overtime for the win.
The victory earned the Glenwood boys a trip to Thursday's District quarterfinals in Grand Junction. They'll face the No. 3 seed, Eagle Valley, at 7:30 p.m. at Grand Junction Central High School.
"This gives us a lot of confidence, in ourselves and in our teammates," said Glenwood senior Gabe Yen, who was huge down the stretch in helping the Demons secure the win.
"It came down to teamwork, and staying patient," Yen said. "We stayed patient, and we kept our optimism and, you know what? We won."
The Demons (5-14) controlled play from the opening minutes, playing by far their best game of the season against a stunned Delta squad.
Glenwood built as much as a 13-point lead, 39-26, with five-and-a-half minutes to play in the third quarter.
An attempt to run down the clock backfired on the Demons, though, and by the end of the frame their lead had been whittled to four points, 39-35.
The Panthers went on to score 11 unanswered points before Glenwood finally got back on track. By then, Delta had regained the lead, 41-40.
"I told them, just relax, and we'll be fine," Glenwood coach Cory Hitchcock told radio station KMTS after the game. "It's a game of possessions, and I just said that if we take care of ours, we will score."
Down 47-42 with just over two minutes to play in regulation, Glenwood put together a run that included six straight free throws down the stretch.
Yen connected for a pair from the charity stripe with under a minute to play to make it 52-50, then grabbed a loose ball on Delta's inbounds play and scored again to tie it and send the game into overtime.
Sophomore Brian Burbidge nailed a 3-pointer to open the extra period, giving Glenwood a 55-52 lead.
Delta reclaimed the lead briefly on a basket by sophomore Eian Baier. But a pair of steals by Glenwood freshman Brian Horning led to baskets by Burbidge and Yen, giving Glenwood a 62-56 lead.
Foul shots over the final two minutes of overtime sealed the deal for the underdog Demons.
"We played a complete game, and the game we've been waiting to play all season," Hitchcock said. "We proved we can hang with the best teams in this league, if we play like we're capable of playing."
Junior Jared Gambrel was the Demons' top scorer with 23 points, followed by Yen with 12 and senior Grant Fegan with nine.
The Demons finished the night 17 of 26 from the free throw line, and shot 36 percent from the field, including 42 percent from 3-point land. Glenwood also had 33 rebounds, 17 assists and 19 steals.
Delta's Baier and Douglas Hawkins each finished with 16 points, while Ryan Whiteside added 10. The Panthers finish their season at 11-9.
District tournament action continues Thursday at Central High in Grand Junction, starting with the Glenwood Lady Demons facing Durango at 3 p.m.
The No. 4 seeded Rifle boys play Steamboat Springs at 4:30 p.m., followed by the Rifle girls against Steamboat Springs at 6 p.m. and the Demon boys versus Eagle Valley at 7:30 p.m.
(Play-by-play details for this report were provided by KMTS radio announcers Ron Milhorn and Jack Jabbour. All 4A District tournament games featuring Glenwood Springs and Rifle teams will be broadcast live on KMTS.)