Wildcats scratch Demons from tourney
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GREELEY, Colorado – Cory Hitchcock didn’t want his Glenwood Springs High School boys basketball team to get in a hurry, and definitely not into a running game with Greeley Central.
He had his wish for three quarters.
Unfortunately for the Demons, they fell right into Greeley Central’s trap in the final quarter, losing 63-44 in Wednesday night’s first round of the Class 4A state tournament.
“After the third quarter, we got away from our gameplan, and when you do that, you lose,” Hitchcock said. “We let them control the tempo.”
The Wildcats outscored the Demons 25-10 in the final period, denying 6-foot-3 forward Collin Porterfield any solid looks at the basket – he had just one basket in the fourth quarter.
“Our team worked hard to get me the ball, but we retreated to rushing and forcing our shots instead of like we did in the first three quarters when we utilized everybody,” said Porterfield, who finished with a team-high 17 points.
Senior guard Matt Garcia led Greeley Central (15-9) with a game-high 24 points in front of a packed house at Jim Baggot Gymnasium.
A fast-break layup by Garcia opened the final period to give Greeley Central a 40-34 lead. With 6 minutes, 20 seconds left, he drained a 3-pointer to increase the advantage to 45-38.
From there, senior forward Logan Parks was good for eight straight points – six via a pair of three-point plays – before Garcia put on a finishing touch with a fast-break layup and a baseline jumper.
Greeley Central then executed a motion/passing offense to take more than minute off the clock, leaving the Demons helpless.
“I do live for games like this,” said Garcia, who also had three steals. “In the second half, I started feeling it.”
Greeley Central coach Troy Graefe described the 5-foot-5 Garcia as “a gamer,” adding “he makes plays that you can’t teach. He’s a smart player.”
Garcia and the Wildcats had to persevere a Glenwood Springs (7-17) team that slowed the tempo just enough to keep Greeley Central from finding its rhythm for the first three quarters.
The Demons utilized a more deliberate offense at times in the first half. The game was tied three times and the lead changed hands three times in the second quarter, resulting in a 21-21 deadlock at the half.
“In the second half, we took care of the ball a lot better and it started to wear on them,” Graefe said. “Before that, Glenwood shot well and didn’t allow us to do what we wanted to do.
“When we started playing better, it created some turnovers,” Graefe added.
The Demons were victims of 21 turnovers and eventually had trouble scoring, hitting just 38 percent from the floor.
“The whole week, we’ve worked on slowing things down, and we definitely didn’t want to get into a running game with them,” Hitchcock said. “We knew that would work for us defensively, but we got away from the gameplan.”
The Wildcats never wavered from their up-tempo offense, calling on Garcia and senior Danny Butherus (10 points, seven assists, two steals) to set the pace, which finally emerged.
Parks got into scoring act at key times, but explained that his role is to bolster the team’s defense.
“My defense is why I’m in the starting lineup,” Parks said. “I really wanted to make my last minutes playing at home count.”
Parks’ eight points in the first four minutes of the fourth period allowed the Wildcats to stretch the lead to 15 points, and Glenwood Springs was good for only two points in the final four minutes.
“Our kids know how to play well, and I don’t think they’ll back down to anybody,” Graefe concluded.
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