Cardinals girls finish sixth in 2A basketball |

Cardinals girls finish sixth in 2A basketball

The Grand Valley girls basketball squad didn’t play like a team making its first trip to the Class 2A state tournament in school history.The Cardinals played like a team with an abundance of playoff experience, but settled for sixth place in Class 2A girls basketball.”I feel we’re right there, and I’m really proud of the kids and the season we had,” Grand Valley head coach Mike Johnson said. “I think we accomplished maybe more than anybody expected us to. We had a good showing and obviously didn’t lie down for anybody.”After dropping a heartbreaker to Jefferson Academy in the first round, Grand Valley bounced back for a dominating 57-36 victory over Nucla Friday to earn a spot in the consolation championship against Crowley County. As did Jefferson Academy, Crowley needed a furious comeback to secure the 39-34 victory and the consolation title.”I think we gave up (17) points in the fourth and only 11 in the first half,” Johnson said of the loss to Crowley.The Cardinals may have been slowed somewhat by illness that struck the team down the stretch, particularly a nasty case of strep throat that limited the play of leading scorer and rebounder Jamie Vance.Grand Valley led for most of the contest but couldn’t hold on in the second half. The Chargers cut a six-point Grand Valley halftime lead to three by the end of the third and kept rolling in the fourth.”We were in great shape most of the year, and to go through all that sickness. We couldn’t finish and struggled down the stretch in the first game and in (Saturday’s) game,” Johnson said. “It really is a credit to the kids. They came down and showed so well” despite not being at full strength.Sophomore Megan Johnson paced Grand Valley with 18 points. Diane Owen led the Chargers with 15 points. Senior Julianne Jones led the Cardinals with 14 points and Vance tallied 10 in the victory over Nucla on Friday night.”We played really well against Nucla,” head coach Mike Johnson said. “We kind of got back to our normal selves a little bit and got a little of our confidence back. There’s two ways you can go after a heartbreaker, and I was glad to see that we didn’t let that discourage us the next night.”The veteran Grand Valley squad – which boasted seven seniors in Wynette Jackson, Jessica Cielatka, Ashley Christensen, Merridy Maybury, Vance, Jones and Alex Neulieb – finished the season with a record of 20-6.”They have been absolutely wonderful to work with. I’m going miss the seven seniors like crazy,” said Johnson, who pointed to a bright future with players like Johnson coming back. “I don’t think we thought we were going to lose a game. That’s a credit to (the players’) character. We came down and played our guts out.”

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