Demons hit their freebies, top rival Titans
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – An extra 45 minutes of practice – every second spent hoisting free throws – paid off for Glenwood Springs’ boys basketball team.
Sinking each of their final 15 free throws and shooting at a 22-for-26 clip for the night, the Demons were able to hold off visiting Coal Ridge on Friday, 62-51.
“We ended practice at 7:30 last night, but we didn’t get done shooting until 8:15 because we couldn’t hit 70 percent as a team,” relayed Glenwood senior Mike McGraw, who turned in a game-best 20 points and hit 10 of his 11 freebies.
With his players lining up and shooting a pair of free throws apiece, Demons coach Cory Hitchcock demanded that his team shoot a collective 70 percent before leaving the gym on Thursday.
“I was hoping we’d come out tonight and hit our free throws since we spent that much time there,” said Glenwood’s second-year head coach. “I was glad to see us hit 15 in a row. Mike, down the stretch, he finished strong.”
Friday’s matchup played out before a rowdy crowd that greeted the game’s every twist and turn with roaring applause. And it’s no wonder, given that the schools sit just 17.09 miles apart, according to MapQuest.com.
“Holy cow,” McGraw said. “That was so sick. That was the loudest I’ve heard it in my three years of varsity. It’s never been like that – not for the playoffs, not anything. Not even for Rifle.”
And both sets of fans had plenty to cheer about.
The game was close most of the way, with Glenwood taking a 9-8 lead after a quarter and Coal Ridge heading into halftime up 22-19.
A strong finish to the third quarter and quick start to the fourth put the Demons ahead 45-29 with 5 minutes, 2 seconds left in the final frame.
The Titans pressed their way back into the game late, slicing that lead to 50-44 with 2:06 remaining. With Glenwood hitting at such a prolific clip from the line, they’d get no closer.
Collin Porterfield tailed McGraw in the scoring column with 17 points for the Demons, who improved to 5-2. Kellin Casey and Robert Reynolds each finished with 10 points.
Cody Walls led Coal Ridge (1-4) with 16 points, hitting a trio of 3-pointers in the process. Tyler Guettler added 15 points and Darik Brown had 13.
While in no way happy to lose, Titans coach Paul Harvey saw a much more spirited effort than he saw in a Tuesday loss at Eagle Valley.
“We watched some film this week and really had a heart to heart with some of the seniors,” he said. “We talked about giving a better effort. … This was leaps and bounds better, but it hurts to lose.”
A win’s a win, no matter how ugly it comes, but that didn’t do much to lessen the frustration Glenwood girls hoops coach Bryan Derby felt on Friday.
“That was probably the ugliest basketball game I’ve ever seen,” said the coach, whose Demons scored a 36-20 win over Coal Ridge. “The team didn’t come out ready to play basketball tonight.”
Still, Glenwood improved to 8-0 with the turnover-laden performance.
The Demons led 12-3 after one, 21-5 at halftime and 28-7 through three frames.
“They’ll find a way to win,” Derby said. “That’s the one thing about these girls.”
Lexie Warkentin paced Glenwood with 14 points.
Paige Ryan’s 12-point effort was tops for Coal Ridge, which dropped to 2-3.
Glenwood’s teams will travel to Aspen today for their final pre-holiday break set of games. The Titans are off until a Jan. 6 visit from Aspen.
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The victim in a domestic violence-related shooting in downtown Glenwood Springs in April died in November, raising the possibility for first-degree murder charges against the shooter.