Prep preview: With a chance at a league title, Grand Valley boys feel prepped for Moffat County
PARACHUTE — The loss suffered by the Grand Valley High School boys basketball team at the hands of the Moffat County Bulldogs on Jan. 24 has lit the proverbial competitive fire for the Cardinals since then.
Grand Valley suffered just its second loss of the season that day, an 82-64 setback against the ninth-ranked Bulldogs. But since then, the Cardinals have won six consecutive games to seemingly put themselves back on track.
On Friday, it’ll be the Bulldogs (13-4 overall, 11-1 Class 3A Western Slope League play) who once again will try to halt the Cardinals’ momentum. This time there will be a lot more on the line, as No. 10 Moffat County comes to seventh-ranked Grand Valley (15-2, 11-1) to play a game that will have league-championship implications. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday and will be preceded by the Grand Valley/Moffat County girls game at 6 p.m. The games will be broadcast on KSUN, 101.1 FM.
“We learned a lot of lessons from that game in Craig,” Grand Valley coach Scott Parker said. “We’ve gotten back to our defensive fundamentals, and we got away from those when we played them up there. I feel like since then, we’ve done a good job of going back to playing the way we’ve played to have the success we’ve had.”
Parker pointed out that he felt Grand Valley wasn’t patient in its half-court sets against the Bulldogs, who took advantage and forced a lot of one-shot possessions. That, in turn, gave Moffat County more opportunities to score.
And score they did. Thanks to a 28-point performance from Joe Camilletti and an 18-point outing from Denton Taylor, the Bulldogs were in control from the outset in taking an 18-8 first-quarter lead and never looking back.
The Bulldogs, thanks to Roaring Fork’s more-convincing-than-the-score-would-indicate 62-57 victory over Moffat County in Craig, no longer control the 3A WSL standings. Moffat County can clinch the league championship with a victory over the Cardinals in Parachute regardless of what happens in the Bulldogs’ home finale against Aspen on Saturday since Moffat County would have won both regular-season matchups.
It’s more complicated for Grand Valley, though. The Cardinals would gain a one-game edge on the Bulldogs with a win and would have to also win its final game at Gunnison (7-10, 6-6 league) on Saturday. A loss in that scenario by the Cardinals, coupled by a win by Moffat County over Aspen, would give the Bulldogs the league title since the league tiebreaker would go to head-to-head records against common opponents.
The league champion would earn the top seed in the Class 3A Western Slope League District Tournament, which begins on Feb. 24.
RIFLE WRESTLERS AT STATE
The Rifle High wrestling team qualified four athletes for the 3A State Championships in Denver at the Class 3A Region 4 Tournament in Montrose this past weekend.
The Bears’ highest seed is senior heavyweight Jose Prado (31-6), who earned the bracket’s No. 5 seed following his loss to Marcus Garcia in the regional tournament final. Other Rifle wrestlers include No. 15 Alex Rivas (28-11 at 170), No. 16 Zach Wisniewski (19-16 at 160) and No. 10 David Fugita (30-8 at 138).
Fugita, who entered the regional tournament as the tournament’s top seed in his weight class, wound up taking third following his loss in the tournament’s semifinals.
The tournament begins at 3 p.m. today with first-round matches.
RIFLE HEADS TO DISTRICT HOOPS TOURNAMENT
The Rifle High boys and girls basketball teams will try to extend their seasons when they play in the first round of the Class 4A Western Slope District Tournament today.
The Rifle boys (12-8) play against Durango (9-12) of the hybrid 5A/4A Southwestern League. The Demons have defeated the Bears in the district tournament for the past two seasons, with each one ending as a close and low-scoring affair.
That, in coach Roger Walters’ mind, will make the Bears’ intelligence and poise in the final minutes of the game a priority. He said that he stressed that to his team this week as it watched film on Durango from earlier this year.
“We have to be on the same page as a team, and we haven’t quite been there yet,” Walters said. “Once we get there, we’ve got to be able to make good decisions down the stretch and put an absolute emphasis on controlling possession. That will be huge for us.”
Rifle’s girls (12-8) will open tournament play against Glenwood Springs (16-4). It’s the third time that the teams have played each other this season, and the Bears have shown they’ve improved over the course of the season. That was evident on Feb. 7 in a 46-42 loss to Glenwood, when the young Bears held the lead on the Demons for most of the game before Glenwood rallied late in the fourth quarter.
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