Boys WSL basketball: Third-quarter spurt lifts Titans over Cardinals in third-place game
GRAND JUNCTION — Paul Harvey’s halftime speech — not a change in game plan or strategy — was all the Coal Ridge High School boys basketball team needed to get its offense going on Saturday.
The Titans got going in a big way against the Grand Valley Cardinals. Their 19-2 run to close out the third quarter gave Roaring Fork the lead for good, and the Rams held off a furious comeback attempt from the Cardinals in the final minutes of their 61-56 victory in the Class 3A Western Slope League District Tournament at Grand Junction Central High School.
“It had nothing to do with Xs and Os,” Harvey said. “Everything about halftime was about getting them emotionally and psychologically ready to go.”
Hunter Gerber finished with a team-high 16 points and Greyson Keener and Brandon Herrera each added 10 points for Coal Ridge (11-11 overall), which finished fourth in the regular-season league standings but finished ahead of second-place Grand Valley (17-5) in the tournament. Because of that, the Titans will receive a better draw in the Class 3A state tournament field when it’s announced by the Colorado High School Activities Association this afternoon.
“We wanted to put ourselves into a better position for the tournament,” Keener said. “And we definitely did that.”
Sam Parker finished with a game-high 26 points to go with a 19-point performance from his younger brother John. The Cardinals were almost able to come back, though, cutting what was a 14-point deficit with four minutes remaining down to just two points with just 14.4 seconds remaining in the game.
Coal Ridge held on, though, which leaves a higher liklihood that Grand Valley will draw a tougher opponent for the regional round of the state tournament — a matchup the Cardinals figure is now happening sooner rather than later.
“If you want to win a state championship, you have to play the best teams in the state at some point anyway,” Grand Valley coach Scott Parker said. “We’ll regroup next week and we’ll be ready for whoever it is we end up playing.”
On Friday, it was Coal Ridge that regrouped in a big way right after halftime.
After Sam Parker nailed a 3-pointer to open the scoring in the third quarter, a jumper from Herrera on the ensuing Coal Ridge possession sparked a run of 12 unanswered points by the Titans. That led to that 19-2 Coal Ridge run and a 47-38 lead for the Titans headed into the fourth quarter.
Grand Valley began to rally, though, even after falling further behind 54-40 with 4:05 remaining on a jumper from Herrera. But Grand Valley got back in it thanks to its transition game and some missed Coal Ridge foul shots, pulling withing 58-56 on a 3-pointer from 6-foot-4 forward Tanner Magee with 14.4 seconds left.
Herrera was fouled immediately, however, and hit both double-bonus foul shots to bump the Titans’ lead to four points. John Parker missed a 3 on Grand Valley’s next possession, and Keener hit 1-of-2 foul shots after pulling down the rebound to essentially seal it.
“Hopefully, this improves our seed,” Harvey said. “How you match up in the first round really can help.”
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