Cardinal girls shake slow start, top Aspen |

Cardinal girls shake slow start, top Aspen

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

PARACHUTE, Colorado – It’s a routine Grand Valley’s girls basketball team hopes to break.

Much too often for coach Mike Johnson’s liking, his Cardinals struggle on offense early and dig themselves into a deep hole.

Sometimes they dig out of it. Sometimes they don’t.

Against Aspen on Tuesday, Grand Valley escaped its early-game woes to defeat visiting Aspen, 33-31.

Amelia Sudick buried a game-tying 3-pointer with 54 seconds left and Eryn Paskett hit a pair of go-ahead free throws with 3.3 seconds remaining to secure a come-from-behind win for the Cardinals.

“This is kind of a similar game to our last five,” Johnson lamented. “Honestly, against Gunnison, against Coal Ridge, against Olathe – in all three – we got down by 15, 20 points and, in the fourth quarter, with about two or three minutes left in the game, it’s just a five- or six-point game.”

Grand Valley put 17 points on the board – more than half its total for the entire game – in a frenetic fourth quarter. The Cardinals entered the final period in a 26-16 hole.

After going up 31-23 on a Bailey Everhart bucket with 4 minutes, 21 seconds remaining, Aspen failed to put another point on the board.

Grand Valley, meanwhile, closed on a 10-0 run.

A Paskett layup and Shawnee Young 3-pointer accounted for the first five points of the surge. Sudick followed with her triple. Then came Paskett’s game-winning freebies.

So where did all the late offense come from?

“I think we just get tired of playing not like us,” Paskett said. “We’re just ready to play like we know we should.”

Added Sudick: “I don’t know if it’s fear or the rest of our energy’s gone, but we’re just giving it our all.”

Young led the Cardinals (3-7 overall, 3-2 in the 3A Western Slope League) with eight points. Sudick and Paskett added six apiece and Haley Johnson finished with five.

Everhart had a monster game for the Skiers, scoring 21 of her team’s 31 points. To the shock of none, the junior took the game’s final shot.

Inbounding the ball with 3.4 seconds left under the far basket, Savannah Johnson launched a long baseball pass to Everhart, positioned near midcourt. The latter advanced the ball to just beyond the arc and launched an off-balance triple as the buzzer sounded.

The shot missed its mark and, while there appeared to be contact, no foul was called.

“I certainly thought it was questionable,” Johnson said with a smile, “especially when you leave the timeout saying, ‘No fouls! No fouls! No fouls!'”

Aspen dropped to 3-7 overall and to 2-3 in the 3A WSL.

“We have a great group of girls here,” Skiers coach Jeremy Haack said. “We fought our hearts out tonight. We’ll be all right.”

Aspen’s vaunted 1-3-1 zone is never easy to crack. Mix in a cold shooting night and you have a recipe for disaster.

Grand Valley’s boys learned that firsthand on Tuesday, losing to the visiting Skiers, 41-27.

“We played it great,” Aspen coach Steve Ketchum said of his team’s stifling zone attack. “It was intense. We has the best angles and spacing we’ve had all year. I know they got good looks and they hit some good shots, but fortunately they missed a ton of shots tonight.”

The Skiers scored the game’s first nine points and took a 14-2 lead after a quarter, limiting the Cardinals to just two Matt Donello free throws.

Aspen’s lead grew to 24-12 by halftime and to 34-17 after holding Grand Valley to just five points in the third quarter.

“You know, they give us trouble,” Cardinals coach Jake Higuera said. “They play that 1-3-1 so well. We got some open looks in the first half, but the whole game we didn’t hit anything.”

Bridger Dawson paced the Skiers (5-6, 2-3) with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Jake Nugent added eight points and 12 boards.

Donello led Grand Valley (7-3, 3-2) with 10 points. Dylan Walters finished with seven.

“Aspen’s a solid team and they can play,” Higuera said. “They can do a lot of good things. Their length gave us trouble. We’ve just got to continue to believe and fight for it.”

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