Titans soar past Cardinals
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
PARACHUTE, Colorado – Coach Paul Harvey joked that he should kick his team out of practice again. Doing just that certainly seemed to fire up his Coal Ridge boys basketball team in advance of Wednesday’s 3A Western Slope League district tournament opener.
A day after their coach ordered them out of the gymnasium during practice, the Titans pulled out a 47-42 win at Grand Valley.
The win vaulted Coal Ridge into Friday’s 8:15 p.m. semifinal against Aspen at Palisade High School. The Skiers defeated Gunnison on Wednesday, 60-56.
“I might have to throw them out of practice again tomorrow,” Harvey joked.
The Titans’ fourth-year coach said that he had a talk with his team on Monday about “bickering with the officials and trash talk.”
At practice on Tuesday, it was apparent the lesson didn’t have the impact Harvey hoped.
“We talked about doing what’s best for the team,” he relayed. “Then, yesterday, we were scrimmaging and I was playing. There was a lot of fouling and they started whining about calls.”
So Harvey ordered his players out of practice.
The Titans responded on Wednesday, jumping out to a 7-0 lead against the Cardinals on a 3-pointer by Tyler Guettler, a steal and layup by Cody Walls and an offensive putback by Robby Moore.
Grand Valley didn’t put points on the board until a Tyler Scott layup 3 minutes, 59 seconds into the game.
Coal Ridge went on to win the first quarter, 13-3.
A triple-filled second quarter belonged to the host Cardinals, who pulled to within 27-23 at halftime with back-to-back 3s by Trever Smith and Eddie Pena to close out the frame.
The teams combined to drain nine shots from beyond the arc – five for Grand Valley and four for the Titans – in the quarter.
Harvey knew the Cardinals would eventually catch fire. They always do.
“You can’t hold them down,” the coach said. “You can hold them down for a quarter or two, but you can’t hold them down for the whole game. I think Trever’s the best player in the league.”
True to Harvey’s assessment, Grand Valley didn’t go away in the second half.
Coal Ridge stretched its lead to 32-25 midway through the third quarter, but the Cardinals scrapped back to within 32-31 with 2:11 left.
A layup by Walls and jumper by Darik Brown pushed the Titans’ lead to 36-31 at quarter’s end.
Coal Ridge built a 42-35 advantage by the middle stages of the fourth and held on down the stretch.
“We played hard again,” Grand Valley coach Jake Higuera said. “I told them when I came into the locker room that I wish I could quit saying great job for playing hard, but not getting the win. That’s how it goes.”
Higuera’s squad will host Gunnison at 6 p.m. in a consolation game tonight. The winner moves on to Palisade for Saturday’s fifth-place game, which is a battle for the league’s final state playoff berth.
Pena led Higuera’s Cardinals, now 12-8 overall, with 12 points on Wednesday. Smith had 11 and Scott finished with eight points.
Guettler led Coal Ridge (9-11) with 15 points. Walls and Brown finished with nine apiece and McCade Cox scored eight.
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