Cardinal’s defense shuts down Rams |

Cardinal’s defense shuts down Rams

Baron Zahuranec
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler Post Independent

CARBONDALE, Colorado ” Grand Valley’s boys assistant coach Roger Walters was back on his old court in Roaring Fork yesterday, and his new team came out with the win. The Cardinals downed the Rams 60-32, in a game that started out as a defensive battle. That’s what Walters’ specialty is.

“It’s nice to be back here and see everybody. All the people up here are unbelievably nice and part of our family,” Walters said upon his return. “Tonight we were real strong defensively. We’re getting better with every game. The kids played the game right tonight.”

Walters helped coach the Rams for five years before taking the spot in Grand Valley.

“It’s just a different view,” he said about sitting on the other side of the scorer’s table.

“It was a little weird having him on the other bench,” Rams senior Ryan Weimer said.

“We miss him,” Rams junior Arick Zeigel said. “But, we’ll see him again (on Feb. 6 in Grand Valley).”

Both teams struggled to put points on the board in the first half. After one quarter, the Rams (1-4 overall, 1-2 3A Western Slope League) were leading 9-5. Grand Valley (4-2 overall, 2-2 3A WSL) tied it at 17 going into the half on back-to-back three-pointers from Derek Witt.

Cardinals head coach Mark Cowan said the game would be decided by whomever shot better in the second half, and that was clearly his team.

The Cardinals scored 21 points in the third and 22 in the fourth, while limiting the Rams to just seven and eight points in the last two quarters.

“We have a goal to hold teams, obviously, to less than what we score,” Witt said. “Our defense got us the win. We played to outscore them and keep them as low as we can.”

The Rams turned the ball over 22 times, and the Cardinals coughed it up just 12 times.

“It just came down to turnovers,” Weimer said. “You can’t win games with more than 20 turnovers. We were even in the first half, but in the second we didn’t do what we wanted.”

Grand Valley opened their lead in the third quarter when Colton Cowan, Michael Shepard and then Derek Witt hit three 3-pointers in a row. That gave them a 26-18 lead that they never looked back on.

Shepard led the Cardinals with 22 points, Witt added 14 more, and Cowan had 10. Shepard and Witt combined to nail seven threes. In the game, the Cardinals hit 10 threes, to just one for the Rams.

Weimer led the Rams with 12 points, Michael Black had six points, and Jake Hawkins chipped in four points.

Roaring Fork (0-5 overall, 0-3 3A WSL) started just fine with an 11-9 lead five minutes into the game, but an 11-point run from the Cardinals turned the game in their favor.

Leading 21-11 after that run, the Cardinals took control and rode a 27-19 lead into halftime.

The Rams were slowed a bit when Maria Flores picked up her third foul just 47 seconds into the second quarter. She ended up leading the Rams with 11 points.

“When Maria got into foul trouble that’s what did us in,” Rams head coach Nancy Zeigel said. “She’s the only one with any varsity experience. We’re a young team that’s improving every game.”

Like the Cardinal boys, defense earned the Cardinal girls (4-3 overall, 2-2 3A WSL) the 49-39 win.

“We live and die by our defense,” Cardinals head coach Mike Johnson said.

“Defensively, we have a real talented group, maybe as talented a group as I’ve had.

Our defense triggers our offense, it takes care of us. That’s how we’re going to play all year. There’s no hiding it.”

In the second half, the teams were pretty even but the eight-point halftime lead held strong for the Cardinals. Overall, both teams sank 18 shots from the field, but Grand Valley hit 10 more free throws, the game’s final margin.

Erin Vanderpool led the Cardinals with 18 points, Kasi Jensen added 10 more, and Tiffany Tittes had eight.

“We had to work to get the win,” Tittes said. “We did a lot better offensively. We picked it up a little more from last night.”

On Friday, the Cardinals lost to Basalt 55-41, partly due to poor shooting.

“Offensively, we’re very average,” Johnson said. “If they keep plugging away, we should be nice down the stretch.”

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