Cards go for district championship banner
Earning an automatic berth to the Class 2A regional in March has not dampened Grand Valley’s quest for success in the District 5 girls basketball tournament.”Districts are pretty darn important to us,” said head coach Mike Johnson of the No. 1-seeded Cardinals. “We want to be the first Grand Valley girls team to hang a (championship) banner in our gym.”
The three-step journey to that goal starts Saturday when the Cardinals host No. 8-seed Soroco at 1 p.m for a first-round contest in the single-elimination tournament.First-round winning teams move on to Hayden High School for the semifinals on Feb. 25. Semifinal winners play for the regional title Feb. 26.Grand Valley earned its regional berth by winning the 2A Western Slope League outright. Despite rolling through the league with an unblemished 7-0 record in league play and a 10-0 mark against league opponents, Johnson is not taking the 0-7 Rams lightly. In their lone meeting against each other on Jan. 14, Grand Valley edged Soroco 35-34 in Oak Creek.
Johnson also feels any one of the eight teams in the first round are capable of winning. “The league is very balanced, and anybody could be playing at the end,” he noted.Defense, depth and experience makes the Cardinals a favorite to advance to next week’s championship game at Hayden High School.”Our defense has been dominant,” Johnson said. The seasonal stats back that up.
While fashioning a 15-4 mark in the regular season, Grand Valley has held its opponents to a team average of 37 points a game. Against league opponents, the Cardinals are even stronger.In those games, Grand Valley allowed a mere 30 points per contest.The Cardinals concluded the regular season Tuesday with a 52-45 win at Class 1A DeBeque. Jamie Vance led a balanced attack with 15 points. Two more Grand Valley starters – Jessica Cielakia and Julianna Jones – added 14 and 12 points.
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