PARACHUTE - Mike Johnson has always been one of the biggest critics of the Grand Valley High School girls basketball team.
Not that the Cardinals coach isn't happy with the 14-5 season they've had. He will, however, be one of the first people to point out what his team could get better at.
"I think we've had a good year," Johnson said. "But the biggest problem I think we've had is our struggle to find consistency."
The third-seeded Cardinals are hoping to find a little more of that consistency today. They'll open the Class 3A Western Slope League District Tournament with No. 6 Cedaredge (7-12) at The Nest, with the winner earning a berth in the state tournament and a spot in the district semifinals. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Grand Valley's boys basketball team, which started the season 0-9 and 1-13 overall, will also play in a district tournament game today. The Cardinals (6-13) closed the regular season on a five-game win streak, and will take that into their 6 p.m. district-tournament matchup at Basalt (7-12).
Johnson would love to have that kind of consistency from his team at least for eight games in a row, which is the number of consecutive wins the Cardinals would need to win a state championship. They won five in a row until their loss to Coal Ridge on Feb. 15, but Johnson feels the consistency issues extend beyond the full 32-minute games.
"We've had some times when we've put together four or five good ones in a row, and then we'd come out the next game and not show up," Johnson said. "It's even gone from quarter to quarter. We've had stretches where it seems like we're just not there.
"All that said, we're No. 4 in the state in scoring, No. 1 in 3-point shots made and No. 1 in free throw attempts," he continued. "So we are doing some very nice things."
Haley Johnson has been the most consistent scorer for Grand Valley, as her 11.8 point per game average and 38 3-pointers are both team highs. Ashlynn Speakman is right behind with 30 3-pointers, and her 61 total steals are tops on the team.
"Yes, consistency has been an issue," Speakman said, smiling. "But we know that if we come out ready to play, we'll be OK. All we have to do is focus on us and the way we play, not on who it is we're playing.
"Our season is going the way we want it to and we're going into the district tournament as a top-three seed," she added. "We're just hoping that it comes together (today)."
The Grand Valley boys have grown consistently better over the course of the season, and their current five-game win streak is proof of that. Part of that success has come from the addition of Sam Parker, who has played only the past 10 games with the Cardinals due to transfer rules.
Parker has averaged a team-high 13.6 points per game, and Trent Reidle, who has also played only the past 10 games, is averaging 13 points per game. Both did not play their first game of the season until Jan. 15 against Coal Ridge, a 67-59 win and the Cardinals' first of the season after an 0-9 start.
Today's winner between Basalt and Grand Valley will play either Coal Ridge or top-seeded Roaring Fork in the tournament semis at 4:45 p.m. Friday at Palisade High School. The winner of the Grand Valley/Cedaredge girls game will play either Olathe or Gunnison at 6:30 p.m. Friday, also at Palisade. A loss brings an end to the season.