Cards top Cripple Creek in Pueblo |

Cards top Cripple Creek in Pueblo

Special to the Post Independent/Greg Liverman

PUEBLO ” With the outside shots falling, Grand Valley beat Cripple Creek 81-72, claiming its first state tournament win since 2000.

The Cardinals trailed 17-9 after the first quarter of the Class 2A boys basketball state quarterfinal at Pueblo Events Center, but caught fire and outscored the Pioneers, 26-13, in the second quarter to go up for good. Grand Valley sank 14 3-pointers in putting on a virtual shooting clinic.

“It was a very fun game to watch,” Cardinals coach Scott Kiburis said. “They took away Luke (Braby), our inside guy. They really buckled down on him, which allowed some opportunities from the perimeter, and we shot very well.”

Senior Sam McKinley hit six 3-pointers and scored a team-best 27 points to pace the Cards. He also had 10 rebounds and five assists.

Sophomore Colton Cowan sparked Grand Valley off the bench, hitting four 3s and finishing with 18 points and six rebounds.

Kiburis couldn’t have been more pleased with his young player’s effort.

“Colton has really come on the last half of the year,” the coach said. “He plays hard and hustles. He’s really intelligent. He’s not in awe at all, no nervousness. When he got in the game, we started playing better.”

Seniors Luke Braby and Mitch Belden rounded out the double-figures scorers with 11 apiece and junior Tyler Jensen chipped in with nine points. Braby also had 10 boards.

Taylor Morgan led Cripple Creek (20-3) with 29 points in the school’s first-ever state tournament appearance.

The Cardinals (20-4) will play Evangelical Christian at 7 p.m. in Friday’s semifinal.

Grand Valley pounced on the chance to see Evangelical in its Thursday quarterfinal against Jefferson Academy.

Kiburis was impressed.

“They’re a pretty good team,” he said. “They’ve got Rob Lewis,. He’s a 6-(foot)-7 kid who can handle the ball real well. He’s a presence in the middle. I think we are the underdogs, but this is the state tourney, and kids play hard and do the unexpected.”

Fellow Western Sloper Meeker failed in its bid to make the Final Four, losing to Burlington, 77-56, in Thursday’s quarterfinal.

Kiburis and the Cardinals had planned to attend.

“We want to see our co-league team,” Kiburis said before the Meeker game. “On the Internet, there are a lot of chat lines and we didn’t get a lot of respect.”

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