Free throws the difference in win for Glenwood’s boys
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Cory Hitchcock constantly preaches the value of free throws to his players.
On Thursday, the Glenwood Springs boys hoops coach’s players proved they’ve been taking his words to heart.
Scoring 18 of their final 20 points from the foul line and hitting at a 28-for-32 clip (87.5 percent) from the stripe on the night, Hitchcock’s Demons held on for a 72-57 win over the Devils.
“We work on our free throws every day in practice,” Hitchcock relayed. “It’s huge. That’s a testament to my boys. They come out here every day and just work hard. I just tell them that free throws are going to win basketball games. We proved it tonight. Free throws won the game.”
Glenwood hit its final 22 straight freebies of the night and scored 20 of its 29 fourth-quarter points at the foul line.
Kevin Flohr, who led all scorers with 29 points, went 12-for-12 at the line. Nick Ciani, who finished with 12 points, went 8-for-8 and Mike McGraw, who wound up with 11 points, went 7-for-7 at the stripe.
“The scoreboard doesn’t say it, but our defense was very good,” Eagle Valley coach Brent McConaghy said. “Sometimes we’d reach and trap … and then we’d foul, and we’d foul the wrong guys. The scouting report shows you don’t foul Nick Ciani and you don’t foul Kevin Flohr.”
And, as the coach learned on Thursday, you don’t foul McGraw.
Though the game fell out of reach at the line late, McConaghy’s feisty squad kept it close the majority of the night.
The Devils took a 12-11 lead after a quarter and trailed 25-23 at halftime.
Glenwood used a 9-2 run at the start of the third to open up a 34-25 advantage midway through the frame.
That lead grew to 52-38 in the middle stages of the fourth before Eagle Valley made Hitchcock and the Demons sweat a little with an 11-2 run.
Jeremy Sabo, who led the Devils with 18 points, hit a key 3-pointer as teammate Mervin Vargas drew a foul underneath to kickstart the surge. Vargas hit a pair of free throws to compete a rare five-point play and make it 52-43 at the 4 minute, 57 second mark.
Buckets by Sabo and Sam Lounsberry and a pair of free throws from Jesse Gish followed a pair of Ciani free throws as Eagle Valley cut the Glenwood lead to 54-49 with 3:23 left.
From there, free throws secured the win for the Demons, who improved to 12-4 overall and to 5-0 in the 4A Western Slope League.
Gish finished with 14 points for the Devils, who fell to 5-9 overall and to 2-3 in league play. Lounsberry and Vargas added nine apiece.
“The effort was always there, the fight to want to do something for another guy,” McConaghy said. “That’s always good to see. … No matter what happens, they’ll be out there in guys’ faces and giving it all their effort.”
Next up for Glenwood is a trip to Battle Mountain tonight. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. Eagle Valley hosts Battle Mountain, its neighboring rival, at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
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