Bitter 16: Spartans top Glenwood |

Bitter 16: Spartans top Glenwood

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Jeff Caspersen Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Taking the court four players down did little to slow Thomas Jefferson.

Scoring the first 15 points in the third quarter, the shorthanded Spartans brought Glenwood Springs’ season to an end with a 54-38 win in the Sweet 16 round of the 4A boys basketball state playoffs on Saturday.

Thomas Jefferson benched four players, including two starters, for Saturday’s game in Glenwood Springs. Those four helped the team to a 78-54 win over Greeley West in Friday’s round of 32.

“They got in some trouble,” Spartans coach Grant Laman said.

Regardless, Thomas Jefferson found the firepower to advance past the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2006. That year, the Spartans won their second of back-to-back state titles.

On Saturday, Billy Sprague scored 16 points and Chris Carter chipped in with 13 as Thomas Jefferson (18-7) earned a Great Eight date with Sierra.

The Demons kept it close in the first half, heading into intermission down eight (23-15).

Thomas Jefferson’s size – the Spartans ran out three starters measuring 6-foot-4 or taller – and athleticism proved too much in the second half, though. The Spartans’ 15-0 run to start the third extended their lead to 38-15.

“We just stopped shooting,” Glenwood senior Danny Weller said. “Our defense wasn’t good. We kept letting them get in the post. They got a few and-ones and got up by like 20 points.”

The Demons finished with a fight, though, trimming the deficit substantially down the stretch. Glenwood pulled to within 10 points late in the fourth.

A few clutch buckets here and there – including an emphatic dunk by Zach Jackson with just under a minute to go – sealed the win for Thomas Jefferson.

“We knew we had to come out with a lot of intensity and play great defense,” Carter said. “They made their run, but we adjusted very well.”

Sophomore Mike McGraw came off the bench to lead the Demons with 10 points. Nick Ciani and Kevin Flohr scored six apiece for Glenwood, which finished the season with a 19-6 record.

Demons coach Greg Hire had nothing but kind words for his players as he reflected on a season rife with accolades.

“They’re a great group,” the fourth-year frontman lauded. “We got to the final 16. We were back-to-back league champions. We went through league undefeated.”

Glenwood went 14-0 in the 4A Western Slope League to bag its second straight title in 2009-10. The Demons also boasted the league’s player of the year, its coach of the year and five all-league players.

Flohr was named the league’s top player and Hire its top coach. Flohr, Ciani, Weller and Russell Collins made the all-league first team and Kelbey Artaz was tabbed honorable mention.

All-league awards are voted on by 4A WSL coaches.

“It was a great year,” Hire said. “I just wish we had shot a little better today. It might have been a closer game. We might have had an opportunity there.”

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