GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - The Glenwood Springs High School girls basketball team used a rare size advantage and found a way to handle Harrison's pesky full-court press to win the opening round of the 4A state basketball playoffs Tuesday night, 52-42.
Playing in the comfy confines of their home gym following a pair of rough outings at the district tournament in Grand Junction last weekend, Glenwood got off to a strong start, opening an 8-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
When the visiting Panthers from the Colorado Springs Metro League made a game of it, the Demons proved they weren't going to let it shake their confidence.
Harrison, the No. 9 seed in the Tanya Haave Region, played even with the No. 8 Demons until Glenwood pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Following a pair of clutch 3-pointers from Harrison sophomore guard Elena Martinez to close out the first period, the Panthers took a brief three-point lead early in the second and tied it 23-all at the half.
Harrison went back up by three again to start the third quarter. But Glenwood had an answer, regaining the two-point lead going into the fourth.
The Demons (14-8 overall) outscored their first-round state tournament opponent 18-10 through the final eight minutes of play, making their free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
"It's great to be able to play in front of our home crowd one more time," Glenwood senior Kenzie Nelson-Buehler said. "We knew what we had to do after a couple of tough losses, and I think we proved to people tonight that we can actually play."
Glenwood coach Jacky Gaddis knew going in that Harrison would give her guards all they could handle bringing the ball up the court.
"They're quick, and it wasn't always pretty, but we found a way to handle that," Gaddis said. "I'm thrilled that we kept our composure at the end, and that we made our free throws. That's critical."
The Demons were 15 of 18 on free throws for the night. Harrison struggled from the charity stripe, hitting just 9 of 17.
Sophomore Madi Spence was huge underneath for Glenwood, using her 6-foot-1 frame to earn several second-chance shots en route to a 20-point scoring output.
"It's nice to get a win, and especially a close one," Spence said.
"We've lost a few of those close ones. We played good defense, and when we do that our offense comes to us and everything seems to work out."
Sophomore Jordan DeCrow added nine points to the winning effort, including a 3-point answer to Martinez's back-to-back treys in the first quarter.
Martinez was the leading scorer for Harrison with 14 points, followed by sophomore Ashley Register with 12.
Harrison ended its season at 13-11, while Glenwood Springs moves on to the second round on Friday against the region's top seed, Denver's D'Evelyn (22-1).