BIG impact: Glenwood’s Madi Spence one of Class 4A’s top post players
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Madi Spence didn’t hesitate to speak up when it came to talking about the games that the Glenwood Springs High School girls basketball team has lost this season.
“Those were our best games of the year,” she said.
Spence was referring to the 20- and 30-point losses the Demons took at the hands of Pueblo West and Montrose, respectively, on Dec. 13. She explained herself, however.
“Montrose and Pueblo West are ranked way up there,” she said. “That’s state-tournament level play right there. That’s where we have to be, and they showed us what level we need to be at to get where we want to go.”
Spence, however, has also been playing at a much-higher level for the Demons (9-2 overall, 5-0 Class 4A Western Slope League play), who have won 19 consecutive conference games dating back to the 2012-13 season. Through the Demons’ games on Jan. 17 according to statistics provided by http://www.maxpreps.com, she was among the classification’s leaders in scoring (16.1 points per game), blocked shots (4.4 per game), steals (3.7) and rebounds (14.7). What’s more, her rebounding total barely trails the 14.8 per game that has been amassed by Kylee Shook, a 6-foot-4 junior from Mesa Ridge of Colorado Springs who is being recruited by, among others, schools from the Pacific-12 Conference.
Yet Spence, who stands 6-0, has managed to bring her game to new heights thanks to the supporting cast of players who surround her.
“We always say that as a team, she wouldn’t be as successful with her rebounding if it wasn’t for the rest of the team,” Glenwood coach Jacky Gaddis said. “We have a philosophy to just put the ball up because if we miss, someone is going to come away with the rebound to give us another opportunity. And on the defensive end, we have people who can run the floor real well after we’ve pulled down a board. So a lot of her success has come because we don’t have to have 21 passes on each possession to score.”
Spence is one of the biggest reasons for those second chances, averaging 6.5 rebounds per game. And without a doubt, the balance that has emerged on Glenwood’s roster has made a big difference in where Spence’s numbers wound up.
Spence is also joined by Hailey Armstrong, a 6-foot senior who is averaging 9.9 points and 10.3 rebounds. Also contributing greatly has been Jordan DeCrow, who is averaging 11.3 points per game and is shooting 44 percent (22-for-50) from beyond the 3-point line. Even senior Bella Diaz (7.0 points) and Jaime Crowley (3.7 points, 7.3 rebounds) have stepped up, forcing Glenwood’s opponents to diversify their defensive efforts instead of focusing on just one player.
“When we’re getting plowed on the inside, coach always comes to us and says how we’ve got to start hitting some outside shots,” Spence said. “When they start respecting our shooters out there like Jordan, Bella and Megan [Uren], it take a lot of pressure off of us. It opens thing up so much.”
Granted, Spence didn’t do very well during her matchup with Shook at Glenwood Springs High School on Feb. 15 of last year, a 62-53 Glenwood loss to the Grizzlies. She finished 2-of-9 shooting for six points, but did have 14 rebounds.
Still, Spence and Armstrong make up the tallest tandem in the 4A WSL. And even though Spence doesn’t reach the height players like Shook do, she makes up for it with her quickness in the paint and her ability to hit fade-away jumpers despite her unassuming, slim body frame.
“If you were to look at her going down the street, you wouldn’t look at her and say, ‘Hey, I’ll bet that girl plays basketball,’” Gaddis said. “I’ll bet that in another system, she might not even be a post player because she’s got such a great outside shot.”
That’s been a key part of her performances this season. Among them was Glenwood’s 59-39 loss to Pueblo West, where she finished with 25 points, 19 rebounds and five steals. In the Demons’ 75-46 win against Battle Mountain on Jan. 9, she came excruciatingly close to a 20-20 game for the second time with her 19-point, 20-rebound performance. She’s had at least 19 rebounds in a game three times this season, with the other coming in a 12-point, 19-board performance on Jan. 6 in a 42-31 win at Eagle Valley.
“Just about everything leading up to this has helped make me a better player,” said Spence, who attributed her time in summer basketball as one of the main reasons for her performance this season. “I couldn’t do any of this without my teammates.”
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At long last, high school basketball teams return to the court this week as part of Colorado’s revamped winter sports lineup, which has been delayed since November due to the coronavirus.