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Cards set for uncharted territory

Mike Johnson let out a sigh of relief with the Class 2A girls basketball state championship bracket was released.It wasn’t because the Grand Valley head coach wanted to avoid any particular team – every team is tough when the field numbers eight. Rather, Johnson was happy his team had an afternoon game for the Cardinals’ first-ever trip to the girls state championships.”Everything lined up great for us,” Johnson said. “We only have three girls on the team who have ever even seen the state tournament. I’m thankful we’re not playing the 8:45 (a.m.) game and we get to see what the state tournament is like. It’s not like playing at Grand Valley.”Grand Valley gets its first state tournament experience at 1:15 p.m. Thursday against Jefferson Academy at the Pueblo Events Center.Grand Valley (19-4) enters as the No. 4 seed, while Jefferson Academy (18-5) is the fifth seed. The winner advances to Friday’s state semifinals at 8:30 p.m. against the winner of the game between No. 1 Limon (23-0) and No. 8 Nucla (13-9) at 8:30 p.m. The losers drop into the consolation bracket and play at 1:15 p.m. The state championship game is set for 8:30 p.m. Saturday.State hoops: see page 12The Cardinals should be closer to full strength than they have been the past couple of weeks – not that they haven’t fared well without their leading scorer, Jamie Vance, at full strength the last couple of weeks.Vance missed the district championship (which the Cardinals won) on Feb. 26 and she played “very, very short spurts” in Saturday’s 52-33 regional-game victory over Dolores while recovering from strep throat.”She’s got a couple more days of rest, and she’s trying to get her legs back,” Johnson of the senior. “She lost a ton of weight and is not in game shape any more.”We really need her healthy this weekend, obviously,” he added. “But we have played two weeks now not at full strength and had a number of kids step up.”Class 3A tourney times setBy Saturday evening the Roaring Fork boys and girls knew who the opponents would be in the Great Eight round of the Class 3A State Championship tournament. The question was when.Both teams open in the evening.The Roaring Fork boys (20-3) tip off at 7 p.m. Thursday against Faith Christian (20-4). The Rams girls (21-2) follow with an 8:30 p.m. contest against Estes Park (24-1), also on Thursday. Both games will be at Colorado State University’s Moby Arena in Fort Collins.


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