Area prep winter sports athletes earn CHSAA All-State mentions
Glenwood’s Mitchell Burt pulls up for a shot over Weld Central’s Daniel Begler during 4A playoffs action this season. Kyle Mills / Post Independent
Demons senior John Iuele takes it into the lane during Glenwood’s 64-44 semifinal win in the home Demon Invitational Friday night. Glenwood plays Montrose at 2:30 p.m. Saturday for the boys championship. John Stroud/Post Independent
Rifle senior Trey Lujan finds an opening in the lane in action earlier this season. Theresa Hamilton/courtesy
Coal Ridge’s Austin Gerber looks for an opening to shoot under the defensive pressure from Aspen’s Braden Korpela durin gfourth quarter action Tuesday. Kyle Mills/Post Independent
Glenwood Springs Demon Natalya Taylor works her way through the defending Rifle Bears in action this season. Chelsea Self / Post Independent
Coal Ridge Titan Taylor Wiescamp reaches for the lay-up during Wednesday’s game against the Basalt Longhorns at Coal Ridge High School. Chelsea Self / Post Independent
Roaring Fork’s Maya Lindgren dribbles around the Coal Ridge defense in District tournament action Feb. 25. John Stroud/Post Independent
In action earlier this season, Coal Ridge’s Peyton Garrison and Taylor Roberts and Grand Valley’s Jordyn Pittman battle for the loose ball. Area 3A teams concluded their seasons in regional-round action March 6. Kyle Mills/Post Independent
The state high school basketball tournaments may have been cut short due to the coronavirus outbreak in Colorado, but All-State teams were announced this week and several local athletes’ names are on the list.
In the Class 4A boys selections, Glenwood Springs seniors John Iuele and Mitchell Burt both garnered honorable mention by the Colorado High School Activities Association.
Burt and Iuele led the Demons in scoring, averaging 12.5 and 13.7 points per game, respectively. Burt was also named 4A Western Slope League Player of the Year earlier this month, after Glenwood went 12-0 to win league and finished 22-4 on the season, including a run to the Great 8 in the state tournament.
Joining the two Glenwood players on the state honorable mention list was Rifle High School senior Trey Lujan, who led the Bears with 17.9 points per game this past season.
For the Class 3A boys, Coal Ridge High School senior Austin Gerber was the lone area player to make the honorable mention list. Gerber average 18.9 points per game on 50% field-goal shooting, and was 46% from the 3-point arc.
Making honorable mention for the 4A girls was Glenwood Springs High senior Natalya Taylor, who was the Lady Demons’ scoring leader, shooting 49% and averaging 11.2 points per game. Taylor was the girls 4A WSL Player of the Year this season.
And, for the 3A girls, All-State honorable mention honors went to Roaring Fork junior Maya Lindgren, Grand Valley senior Jordyn Pittman and Coal Ridge junior Taylor Wiescamp. The trio averaged 12.8, 8.1 and 13.5 points per game, respectively, this past season.
The basketball honorees joined several other area winter sports athletes who were previously announced among the All-State selections. They include:
Boys Hockey — Glenwood senior Colter Strautman (second team)
Wrestling — Glenwood Springs senior Amos Wilson (182), and Basalt senior Ernesto Lopez (285), both honorable mention.
CHSAA extends suspension of spring prep sports seasons through April 18
Roaring Fork High School soccer players Izzy Knaus and Ari Chacos were getting a little self-guided practice in outside the school Tuesday afternoon when they got word that the spring sports seasons will be suspended at least an extra two weeks.
“I’ve been coming out here every day to train, even though I know most of our season is going to be over before we even start,” Knaus, a junior, said, contemplating even more time away from the field with her teammates.
The Colorado High School Activities Association on Tuesday extended its current suspension of spring sports through April 18, in the ongoing response to slow the advance of the COVID-19 virus in Colorado.
The decision comes after Gov. Jared Polis announced Monday the state would be narrowing the minimum standards for public gatherings and extending the time frame to 30 days, unless otherwise revised.
Spring sports had already been suspended through April 6. The moratorium is now extended through April 18.
“I just want to be ready if we do get a chance to play,” Knaus said. “Soccer is the best part of my year, and now we don’t even have that or school anymore.”
Chacos said she, too, was anxious to play her first season of high school soccer.
“We’re just trying to get out here as much as possible, because it’s supposed to start snowing tomorrow,” Knaus added.
Students and parents are also anxiously awaiting word if school will even resume after spring break ends on March 29, but in the meantime student gatherings are highly restricted.
“CHSAA encourages schools to set stricter standards on student gatherings outside of the high school,” according to a Tuesday afternoon press release from CHSAA Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green.
In addition, all CHSAA music events and the April 14 CHSAA Hall of Fame are canceled. The CHSAA Legislative Council meeting, the state speech tournament and the Student Leadership Advisor U have been postponed indefinitely.
The CHSAA office in Denver will also remain closed until March 30, with staff working remotely from home.
In Garfield County, that means baseball, girls soccer, boys and girls lacrosse, track and field and girls golf seasons will remain suspended.
Teams are also not allowed to have formal practices during this time, and the question still remains whether schools will be allowed back in session after the current extended spring break for the Roaring Fork and Garfield Re-2 school districts, which ends March 29.
And, as it stands, the latest moratorium extension also impacts the Glenwood Demon Invitational Track and Field meet that had been scheduled for April 18, after which, at this point, it would be lifted.
“My initial question was in regard to the 18th of April, specifically, could we resume competition on that date,” Glenwood Springs track coach Blake Risner queried, without knowing the answer just yet.
Even so, he’s not sure his or any other team would be prepared for competition after not having had any formal practices since March 12.
This was to be the 40th edition of the Demon Invitational.
“I have special t-shirts for this event already in hand and really was looking forward to showcasing Glenwood’s home invitational,” Risner said. “Assuming we have a season at all, I would make a legitimate attempt to reschedule the Demon Invitational.”
Risner said his track and field athletes were hit pretty hard by the news last week that they may not be able to compete at all this spring.
“Some of the veteran tracksters, like Kuba Bartnik and Sophia Vigil, were brought to tears at the prospect of losing their season,” he said. “But they immediately turned their frustration into motivation to continue their training in hopes of salvaging their season.
Risner has been posting personal workouts on the team website, “if, for no other reason, to maintain my sanity and calm my extreme sense of loss,” he said.
Kuba, a senior sprinter for the Demons, has also been organizing off-campus workouts via social media.
Meanwhile, CHSAA officials said they will recognize individual participants from the CHSAA State Basketball Championships last weekend, with a memento in the coming weeks “to recognize their leadership and resolve during that week.” The state basketball tournaments for all classifications were halted after last Thursday’s games had concluded.
“National and state decisions related to the COVID-19 virus are changing daily, even hourly, so new updates will be posted on CHSAANow.com and communicated via email to schools and media,” CHSAA said in the Tuesday news release.
Vidakovich column: A good time to find our own Willoughby
Demon Hoops Fun to Watch
I enjoyed watching all of the area basketball teams this winter, but it was especially fun to get to see so many of the Glenwood boys’ and girls’ games.
Both teams posted impressive overall records, and each managed to go undefeated in 4A Western Slope League play. In impressive fashion, the girls made it to the round of 16 in the state playoffs, and the boys came within a whisker of making it to the Final Four in Denver, bowing out to Pueblo West at home in the Great Eight.
It stood out to me with each group, that the team truly came first. No selfish players could be found on the court at any time. It was obvious that the end result was more important than any individual accolades.
Each time I interviewed a player from the boys’ team following a game, the first thing that was mentioned was a teammate. It was actually hard to get the individual Demon to talk about himself and his contributions to the win. Without fail, the first comment was in regard to another member of the squad who had set him up for a score, played great defense, or who got the key rebounds and steals to help the team come out on top.
With the type of kids on both Demon teams, it’s no wonder they both enjoyed such successful seasons.
GS Basketball Future is Bright
The boys and girls teams lost a great deal of talent to graduation, but several eager and capable young players from the Demon junior varsity and “C” teams are waiting in the wings to carry on the Glenwood basketball tradition. Also worth noting is the fact that the seventh- and eighth-grade boys at Glenwood Middle School recently placed second in the state championships held in Colorado Springs. Both teams also won the middle school PEG League championship in their respective division last fall.
When I heard the NCAA basketball tournament had been canceled, I thought back to a late March day in 1985 when, on the way back to school in Greeley, I was able to get a ticket to watch the men’s west regional final at McNichols Sports Arena in Denver. It was a big game featuring North Carolina State University, coached by Jimmy Valvano, and St. John’s U. from New York City, coached by Lou Carnesecca. The winner would go to the Final Four.
I got one of the last seats in the end balcony, or the nose bleed section as it is known, but it was well worth it to watch two legendary programs, and coaches, battle it out. St. John’s was a talented bunch with Mark Jackson, Chris Mullin, Walter Berry and Willie Glass. They were known at the time as the Beasts from the East. NC State had a diminutive guard named Spud Webb who would go on to NBA fame as a player and slam dunk contest champion.
St. John’s won the game, sending Carnesecca to his first-ever final four. Valvano’s Wolfpack of NC State had won the national title in 1983 with a victory over the Houston Cougars. Valvano passed away in late April 1993 after a lengthy battle with cancer. At the time, I didn’t fully realize the magnitude of the players and personalities I had watched that day in my youth. A memorable game and an unforgettable day all around.
Sequoia Glen 5k Postponed
For the last 20 years, I have hosted the Sequoia Glen 5K Run at my house in west Glenwood. The long trek up Mitchell Creek and above the Glenwood Fish Hatchery won’t happen this spring due to the current health crisis in the country and the world.
The race was supposed to go off on Saturday, April 18, but the risks are too great to get my old running buddies together, as we have done each spring for two decades. Maybe a rescheduled date in the fall can happen. It will all depend on what is going on at the time. I’m positive everything will be OK, and we’ll be able to gather again soon and run up that big hill together.
‘A Stop at Willoughby’
On the recommendation of my friend Patti Welch, I recently watched and old episode of the Twilight Zone television show called “A Stop at Willoughby.”
The 30-minute fictional segment is about New York City advertising executive Gart Williams who is tired of his overbearing boss, nagging wife and stressful lifestyle. Williams, who longs for a peaceful and restful place where a man can slow down to a walk and live his life full measure, drifts off and naps on his daily train commute home from work. On several trips, he believes he wakes up to find the train car deserted except for himself and the conductor, who is telling him he has arrived in a town called Willoughby.
Though it is the middle of winter, Williams peers out the window to discover it is July in Willoughby, and the sun is in full bloom. Everyone is moving at a leisurely pace, including two boys who ask him to join them for an afternoon of fishing.
Williams is jolted awake each time to find himself back in the modern train car with snow coming down sideways outside his window.
Finally, following a breakdown at work, and a fight with his selfish, uncaring wife who tells him she “Didn’t know I married a man whose goal in life is to be Huckleberry Finn,” Williams boards the train once again, falls asleep and arrives in Willoughby. Though Willoughby doesn’t really exist, Williams decides this time he will get off the train and become a part of the ideal place that sometimes only exists in the hidden part of a man’s mind. He decided to climb off a world that was moving much too fast for his liking.
I won’t tell you how the episode concludes. Maybe you will have to watch to see for yourself.
In these strange times, maybe each of us needs to search for our own Willoughby, where there is sunlight and serenity in abundance. Things will be fine. Just stay positive and be thankful for all that we have.
And furthermore, what’s wrong with wanting to be Huckleberry Finn?
Mike Vidakovich writes freelance for the Post Independent.
Coal Ridge, Roaring Fork, Grand Valley land 3A girls all-conference selections
Western Slope League 3A girls all-league selections have now been released, and Coal Ridge, Grand Valley and Roaring Fork high schools were all well-represented.
Leading the way in the league coaches’ selections were, for Coal Ridge: junior Taylor Wiescamp (averaging 13.5 points, 56% shooting for 284 points on the season, and 8 rebounds per game) and freshman sensation Jackie Camunez (10.4 points per game and 40% shooting for 219 points);
For Grand Valley: seniors Jordyn Pittman (8.1 points, 8.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game), and Taygann Schoeppner (9.7 points, and 3.9 rebounds per game, and 54% shooting for 222 points on the season);
And, for Roaring Fork: senior Emily Broadhurst (4.1 assists, 6.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game), and junior Maya Lindgren (12.8 points and 38% shooting for 295 points on the season).
Honorable mention went to, for Coal Ridge: senior Lyanna Nevarez; for Grand Valley: seniors Loghan Teter and Kristin Medina; and for Roaring Fork: seniors Isabella Hernandez and Caroline Wisroth.
League Player of the Year and Top Senior was Delta’s Sarah Geddes, and co-Coaches of the Year were Delta’s Kyle Crowder and Cedaredge’s Russell Coleman.
Release of the all-league picks came following CHSAA’s decision to cancel the state basketball tournaments this weekend for all classifications due to ongoing state health concerns around the coronavirus.
League champion (at 9-0) Delta had been in the Great 8 playing at the University of Denver’s Hamilton Gymnasium. The Panthers lost to Pagosa Springs 45-27 in the quarterfinals last Thursday before the decision was made to halt the tournament.
Demons’ Kotz invited to play on state hockey team at national invite tourney in May
Glenwood Springs Demons hockey senior forward Ryan Kotz has been invited to join Team Colorado in the preps National Invitational Tournament scheduled to be played in Minnesota in early May.
Last year, the Coal Ridge High School student played on the second-tier team and attended America’s showcase in St. Louis. This year, he was evaluated during the CHSAA season, during which Kotz scored 23 goals and had 23 assists.
His Demons’ team finished 12-6-3 in just their second season of CHSAA varsity play, advancing to the second round of the single-classification state hockey tournament.
Kotz’s standout year led to him being chosen for the top team, joining Colorado’s best players in the NIT tournament.
Team Colorado is scheduled to compete in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) in Minneapolis from April 29 – May 3 — barring any lingering sports and travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic at that time.
If the tournament proceeds, the Colorado team will play against the best high school players from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota and Massachusetts.
This is the first year ever that Colorado has been invited to compete in the NIT, according to Glenwood hockey coach Tim Cota.
“This prestigious and highly competitive event receives huge exposure from the NHL, NCAA and Junior A scouts and has changed the future for many of the players that have participated,” Cota said. “Team Colorado will compete against players who are moving on to Junior A, are committed to NCAA Division I and III schools and some who will be drafted in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft next June.”
Kotz is known to his coaches and teammates as “Pony.”
“Pony had the type of senior year that he needed to have to be selected for this type of team,” Cota said. “He plays at both ends of the ice very well and is always around the puck. He’s going to be an asset to this team and will represent the Western Slope very well on Team Colorado.”
Ryan earned Peak League All-Conference honors along with his front line teammate Colter Strautman, who also earned All-State honors, and league honorable mention pick Sean Mooney.
“Demon hockey in general had the type of year where many of our players got noticed on the Front Range and beyond,” Cota said. “This just goes to show that Grizzly Hockey as a youth program and Demon Hockey as a high school program can compete with the larger Front Range teams and programs.”
He added that Kotz’s work ethic on the ice embodies that.
“I’ve been coaching for 28 years now and haven’t had many players that have had the type of work ethic on the ice that Ryan has,” Cota said.
State high school basketball tournaments cancelled midstream, as facilities close due to virus concerns
Colorado’s governing body overseeing high school sports and activities has cancelled the state basketball tournaments that were underway in Denver and Greeley over concerns about the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus.
Several games had already concluded Thursday in the 1A and 2A quarterfinal round at UNC-Greeley, the 3A quarterfinals at the University of Denver, and in the 4A and 5A semifinals at the Denver Coliseum when the decision was made by the Colorado High School Activities Association to end play.
No Garfield County teams were still playing in the tournaments, but the Glenwood Springs boys were one game away from having their season’s fate determined by the response to the virus outbreak, instead of on the court. The Demons lost 44-40 to Pueblo West in Glenwood last weekend in the quarterfinal round.
Up until early Thursday, CHSAA had maintained that the tournaments would be played unless a state agency or a host venue made a decision affecting that status. Earlier in the day, the decision was made to suspend all spring sporting events and activities until at least April 6.
On Thursday evening, the CHSAA office was informed by DU officials that the school would no longer be able to host the Class 3A state basketball tournament.
“With uncertainty at all additional sites, including a state of emergency declaration by the City of Denver, the difficult decision has been made to cancel the remainder of all state basketball tournaments in all classes,” CHSAA said in a statement issued Thursday night.
“Everything we’ve done up to this point was to try and keep the experience of a state basketball tournament for our student participants and high school communities,” CHSAA Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green said in the statement. “In the face of this unprecedented public health emergency, we are compelled to discontinue play in all tournaments.”
The move is in line with similar decisions from the NCAA, which cancelled all remaining winter sports championships and spring sports championships. Other high school associations, including Connecticut, Oregon, Texas, California and Kentucky have made similar announcements.
Glenwood Springs Demons sweep top honors in 4A WSL All-Conference basketball selections
Glenwood’s Mitchell Burt celebrates the Demons victory over cross county rival Rifle this season. Kyle Mills / Post Independent
Glenwood Springs’ John Iuele dribbles the ball around the defending Green Mountain Rams during 4A playoff action. Chelsea Self / Post Independent
Glenwood Springs senior Will Narvaez shoots a fade-away shot over a pair of Montrose defenders earlier this season. John Stroud/Post Independent
Glenwood Springs senior Patrick Young takes it in for the score during action against the Palisade Bulldogs this season. John Stroud/Post Independent
Rifle senior Trey Lujan finds an opening in the lane in action earlier this season. Theresa Hamilton/courtesy
Glenwood Springs Demon Natalya Taylor works her way through the defending Rifle Bears in action this season. Chelsea Self / Post Independent
Glenwood Springs senior Qwynn Massie reaches around a Lewis-Palmer player, as teammate Graci Dietrich reacts, during 4A playoff action. Chelsea Self / Post Independent
Rifle’s Mackenzie Elizardo dribbles the ball around the defending Summit Tigers in action this season. Chelsea Self / Post Independent
Rifle’s Jamie Caron dribbles the ball down the court during action this season. Chelsea Self / Post Independent
Another chapter has been added to Glenwood Springs High School’s storybook basketball season, as the Demons boys and girls programs both garnered player- and coach-of-the-year honors.
Glenwood Springs landed eight players total, four players each for the Demon boys and girls, among the 4A Western Slope League All-Conference selections.
Leading the way were the dual Players of the Year, seniors Mitchell Burt and Natalya Taylor. And, earning Coach-of-the-Year recognition in voting among their fellow league coaches were Demons mentors Fred Heisel and Rhonda Moser.
Lady Demons coach Rhonda Moser. John Stroud/Post Independent
Demons head coach Fred Heisel during a preseason practice. John Stroud/Post Independent
Both Demons teams ran the league tables this past season, going 12-0 to win the WSL regular-season championships and advancing to the 4A state playoffs, the Glenwood boys as the No. 2 seed and the girls at No. 12.
The Glenwood girls lost in the Sweet 16 to conclude their season at 21-4 overall with a loss to No. 5 Erie, while the boys made it to the Great 8 before falling to No. 10 Pueblo West last weekend, ending at 22-4.
In addition to Burt, fellow Demons seniors John Iuele, Will Narvaez and Patrick Young were named All-Conference, while honorable mention went to senior Adam Schrader.
Burt, Iuele and Young led the Demons in scoring, averaging 12.5, 13.7 and 8.8 points per game, respectively. Burt had the hot hand from the outside all season long, connecting on 45% of his 3-point shots, and Narvaez was the leading rebounder, pulling down 8.8 caroms per game.
The Rifle Bears, who finished 10-14 on the season and also made a trip to the 4A playoffs, had one All-Conference selection in senior Trey Lujan, while junior Tido Ruiz earned honorable mention among the league selections. Lujan led the team this year averaging 17.9 points per game, while Ruiz was good for 8.7 points per outing.
Lady Demons well-represented
Joining Taylor in making All-Conference for the Demons girls were senior Qwynn Massie and juniors Graci Dietrich and Maddie Moser, while senior Michelle Marshall earned honorable mention.
Taylor was the team scoring leader, shooting 49% and averaging 11.2 points per game, while Moser had the hot mark from beyond the 3-point arc, connecting on 25 of 61 attempts (41%). Massie, Dietrich and Marshall were team rebounding leaders, pulling down 6.9, 5.1 and 4.7 rebounds per game, respectively.
For the Rifle Lady Bears, junior Mackenzie Elizardo and sophomore Jamie Caron made All-Conference, while seniors April Quinones and Delaney Phillips earned honorable mention.
Caron was the leading scorer for the 10-15 Bears this season, averaging 10.3 points per game, while Elizardo contributed 7 ppg, en route to a 4A playoff run to the second round.
3A boys All-Conference picks also released
While the 3A girls All-Conference basketball selections will await the fate of WSL champion Delta at the 3A state tournament this weekend, 3A boys selections have been made.
All-Conference selections for Garfield County 3A schools included: from Coal Ridge — senior Austin Gerber (18.9 ppg, 50%) and junior Hank DiMarco (9.3 ppg, 6 rpg);
From Grand Valley — sophomore Emilio Garcia (15.2 ppg, 303 points) and senior Blade McCormick (10.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg);
And, from Roaring Fork High in Carbondale — junior Graham Pietch and senior Jaime Vega (no stats reported to Max Preps).
Honorable mention went to Coal Ridge juniors Moises Contreras, Andrew Herrera and Daniel Sanchez; Grand Valley seniors Alex Cornejo and Luis Magallanes; and Roaring Fork junior Tristan Maker.
Gunnison senior Hunter Wood was Player of the Year for the 3A WSL, and Cowboys head coach Matt Smith was named Coach of the Year.
Glenwood Demons hockey well-represented in season All-Conference picks
The second year of varsity hockey at Glenwood Springs High School saw several Demon picks in the Peak League All-Conference selections announced with the conclusion of the state championships Tuesday night.
Leading the way were senior forward and team co-captain Ryan Kotz, a Coal Ridge High School student who played for the Demons, and senior goalie Hunter Hadsock.
The Demons this year went 12-6-3 overall and finished third in the Peak League at 5-3-2, advancing to the second round of the state hockey playoffs.
“Our improvements over the previous year to this season definitely showed in our representation in the state and conference,” Cota said. “It’s an honor to see the boys get the recognition they’ve earned.”
Top seed Valor Christian won the state title Tuesday with a 1-0 win in the fifth overtime period over No. 3 Fort Collins.
UPDATE: Vote comes up just short after web glitch gives Gerber extra chance to advance in #DreamFearlessly fan vote contest
UPDATE, Monday, March 9 — The final votes have been cast, and Coal Ridge senior Austin Gerber just missed out in advancing to the final round of the fan vote contest, pulling 49.56% of the vote to 50.44% for Colin Dougherty.
The table was set for Coal Ridge High School students to try to push senior basketball player Austin Gerber over the top in his semifinal fan-vote round for a chance to take part in the NCAA Final 4 preps 3-point shooting contest.
But just before a planned all-school assembly was set to start Thursday morning for both Coal Ridge and neighboring Riverside Middle School the amfam.com voting site apparently crashed, according to Gerber’s mother, Aimee Gerber.
The voting closed at 11 a.m. as scheduled without all those last-minute votes that had been planned, and Gerber was down by just 0.2 percentage points (50.1% to 49.9%) in his matchup with Colin Dougherty of Sherwood Christian out of Albany, Ga.
After the problem was pointed out to the organizers of the American Family Insurance #DreamFearlessly Fan Vote contest, they agreed to pause the voting instead of declaring a winner.
Voting will now resume between 9:30–11 a.m. (MDT, after this weekend’s time change back to Daylight Savings Time) on Monday. And Coal Ridge is getting the word out to drum up a final barrage of votes to send Gerber to the finals.
Gerber won the first two rounds of voting by margins of 65% and 55% in the contest to send an “under the radar” high school player to be part of the eight-contestant preps 3-point shooting competition during the college basketball finals weekend April 5 in Atlanta. The social-media campaign is being sponsored by American Family Insurance.
Gerber is a 47% 3-point shooter this year, and his Titans team qualified to play in the Class 3A regional round of the state playoffs this weekend, losing a tough one, 59-51 Friday night to DSST: Green Valley Ranch.
The #DreamFearlessly contest began with 16 of the top statistical 3-point shooters in the nation in a bracket-style competition. There’s a separate contest for girls’ 3-point shooters and for the boys slam dunk competition.
If Gerber makes it to the final round after voting resumes and closes again Monday morning, he would be matched against the winner of the other semifinal matchup between Greg Farrow of University School (Milwaukee) and Mitchell Carlos from Casa Grande Union High (Casa Grande, Ariz.).
Voting between the final two contestants is slated for March 6-13.
44-40 Pueblo West win brings Glenwood’s historic hoops season to a close
The Glenwood Springs Demons saw an 18-game winning streak — and their season — come to an abrupt halt on Saturday night at Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium, as the Cyclones from Pueblo West High School blew into town and extinguished Glenwood’s Final Four hopes with a nail-biting 44-40 Great Eight state playoff win.
It was a tale of two very different halves for the second-seeded Demons, who took a slim 12-11 lead after one quarter of play, only to be outscored by the No. 10 Cyclones 19-4 in the second period to trail at the game’s midway point 30-16.
Seniors A.J. Adams, John Iuele, and Mitchell Burt scored to get the Demons out of the starting gates quickly. Cyclones senior forward Nic Hanenberg, Pueblo West’s eventual second half hero, got the initial score for his team before a standing room only gathering in the Demons gym.
Pueblo West senior Jimmy Wardle caught fire briefly to hit two 3-pointers, but Demon Adam Schrader leaped high for a rebound and a put back score which was followed by senior forward Patrick Young connecting on a 3-pointer from deep in the right corner to give Glenwood the lead by a single point after 8 minutes had elapsed.
The second quarter was a turning point in the game that would come back to haunt the host Demons for the rest of the evening.
Wardle started off the Cyclone onslaught with his third 3-ball of the game, giving the Cyclones a 14-12 advantage. Then it was Hanenberg, Alex Reid and Taylor Harris all dropping in baskets for Pueblo West to push the lead to 20-12.
Adams scored on a layup for Glenwood on an assist from Iuele to break the Demon dry spell, but it was then time for little-used Cyclone sophomore guard Danny Spence to step to the plate.
Spence hit a jump shot and then cashed in on a pair of 3-pointers, the latter coming as the intermission horn sounded and Pueblo West had completed a whirlwind run to lead 30-16.
Glenwood coach Fred Heisel must have had some magic in his halftime words, because his Demons came out of the locker room and gave the Cyclones a dose of their own medicine by winning the quarter in fine fashion at 13-4 to make things interesting once again.
“We knew they would make a run. They’re a talented team and I give them credit,” Pueblo West coach Ty Trahern said. “But I’m proud of our kids. They really showed some toughness and grit out there. It was a great game to be a part of.”
Glenwood’s big third period was keyed by Young, who hit a 3-pointer and scored on a determined drive to the basket. Adams got a rebound and scored. Senior post Will Narvaez did the same to push the Demons’ run to 10-0. Burt scored on a layup, but then the Cyclones’ Hanenberg managed to hit two short jumpers to keep Pueblo West in front on the scoreboard at 34-29.
It was now time for two class 4A thoroughbreds to head for the home stretch of the fourth quarter with a photo finish looming at the end.
Glenwood took control of things from the get-go with Iuele scoring on a drive to the bucket, culminating in a soft floating shot. Reserve guard Gabe Kimbrough then completed the Demon comeback with a high-arching 3-pointer to knot things at 34-all and force a Cyclone timeout.
Following a Demon stop on the defensive end, Narvaez put Glenwood up 36-34 with a score on the block. It was Hanenberg to the rescue again for Pueblo West with a 3-pointer to give the Cyclones the lead again with 3:42 left to play.
Adams scored for Glenwood off of a free throw miss by Narvaez as the lead exchanged hands once again. Harris drove for a score for the Cyclones, but Burt connected on a jumper that found every part of the rim before deciding to drop through, giving Glenwood the lead back at 40-39.
Who else but Hanenberg again to the forefront on a driving layup to give the Cyclones a 41-40 lead. A Demon miss and a Pueblo West rebound forced Glenwood to play the fouling game. Pueblo West junior Xavier Hatch made one of two attempts at the charity stripe, giving Glenwood one last chance to tie, or win, trailing 42-40.
After a timeout by Heisel, Glenwood worked the ball patiently until Burt lofted a midrange jumper that was just off the mark. The Cyclones grabbed the rebound — and a trip to the Final Four — as senior Zach Reid marched to the foul line and iced the game for Pueblo West by connecting on both free throws.
Pueblo West (20-6) will face The Classical Academy on Friday night at the Denver Coliseum.
Glenwood (22-4) ends the season with one of the best records, and teams, in the school’s storied basketball history.
“I just told these kids that they have created a legacy that will go well beyond their graduation,” said an emotional Heisel following the game. “All of the young players in this town saw what this group was all about and what they were able to accomplish. They should be very proud of themselves.”
It was the final game in a Demons’ jersey for seven seniors, including Adams, Burt, Narvaez, Iuele, Young, Schrader and Kimbrough.