Cards want to prove they’re as good as last year’s team |

Cards want to prove they’re as good as last year’s team

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

PARACHUTE ” The Grand Valley boys basketball team has something to prove.

Most Cardinals sat on the bench or were relegated to the junior varsity ranks as last season’s squad rose up and won the Class 2A state title.

Replicating the feat of their predecessors ” or at least getting back to Pueblo for the state tournament ” would prove to the Colorado hoops ranks that this flock of Cardinals is every bit as good as the last.

“They’re focused on winning,” Grand Valley coach Scott Kiburis said of his 2007-08 Cardinals. “They want to prove they’re one of the best teams in the state, especially coming off last year’s team, especially since a lot of them were on the bench not getting in the games. They want to show people in Pueblo they can play a little bit, too.”

The people in Pueblo have yet to find out what they can do but plenty of Colorado hoops enthusiasts do.

Grand Valley is ranked No. 1 in the state by RockyPreps and has put quite the hurt on many a team this season. In fact, the Cardinals have yet to lose to a Class 2A school and are 20-2 following three weekend wins that landed them the District 5 title.

The district title sprang Grand Valley into a Saturday regional showdown with District 3 runner-up Mancos in a 3:15 p.m. game at Grand Junction High School.

If you’re wondering why a Mancos-Grand Valley matchup sounds eerily familiar, that’s because the teams met in the regionals last year, though under slightly different circumstances. In 2007, the Cards were the runners-up in their district and Bluejays entered regionals as district champs.

Kiburis and Grand Valley just hope the game’s outcome is the same in ’08. The Cardinals demolished Mancos, 69-45, and then went on to win three straight in Pueblo and grab the Parachute school’s first-ever team state title.

Just as Grand Valley is known for its fast-paced, high-scoring offense, Mancos is notorious for its, slower-paced, ball-control attack. Kiburis and the Cards will do their best to manipulate the tempo of the game in their favor.

“We’ll just try to play ’em the same way as last year,” he said. “We’ll use our depth and press them on offense.”

Depth is certainly something Grand Valley has. In last weekend’s district title game against Paonia, the Cards placed four players in double figures in a 64-49 dispatching of the Eagles. Tyler Jensen had 18 points, William Waugh 14, Landon Paskett 12 and Colton Cowan 10.

Several guys racking up double-figures scoring totals is par for the Cardinals’ course, with an offense that produces 3-pointers and layups in droves and features not a single player who is afraid to put up a shot.

“We have different kids that spark us in different games,” said Kiburis, whose team is most often led in scoring by Jensen and Cowan, both averaging right around 13 a game.

The Cards will need to have their shots falling against Mancos, perennially one of the better teams in Class 2A.

“Their coach’s name is Gary Hill and he’s won over 400 games,” Kiburis said of his Saturday coaching counterpart, who’s in his 27th year in charge of the Bluejays basketball program. “They’re very well coached and disciplined as a team.”

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