Cards wrap up state tourney with loss to Holyoke
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
PUEBLO ” The wear and tear of the state tournament took its toll on Grand Valley’s boys basketball team.
Looking listless and overmatched, the Cardinals were dealt a 60-40 loss by Holyoke in Saturday’s Class 2A state consolation final at Colorado State University-Pueblo.
“It’s the third day,” said Grand Valley coach Scott Kiburis, whose team entered the tourney with a No. 1 seed and hopes of winning it all. “It’s been a long weekend. They played hard those first two games.”
Behind 22 points from 6-foot-3 sophomore forward Kyle Carper, the Dragons seized control of the game in the second half, limiting the Cardinals to just one point in the third quarter. And that point didn’t come until Tyler Jensen drained a free throw with 23.5 seconds to go in the frame.
Putting up 14 points of its own in the third, Holyoke extended a 35-22 halftime lead into a 49-23 edge by frame’s end.
Save an 8-2 game-closing run, things didn’t get much better for Grand Valley in the fourth, and a 21-5 season came to a disappointing close.
“[Holyoke’s] a good team,” Kiburis said. “I told some of our kids after the game that they might be the best team in the state.”
The Dragons (20-6) certainly looked the part, scrapping on the boards for second-chance points and slashing through the lane for layups.
Carper was the primary culprit, grabbing 10 rebounds and shooting 10-of-15 from the floor.
Gustav Hollnagel leveled his fair share of damage as well, finishing with 15 points and five boards.
“The kids were definitely ready,” said Holyoke coach John Baumgartner, whose program has made the state tournament in five of the last six seasons. “They were glad to be here. They knew Grand Valley’s a good team ” defending state champions.”
Junior Colton Cowan paced the Cardinals with 11 points, followed by Jensen with six and Seth Stewart with five, including a 3-pointer as the final buzzer sounded.
Jensen, Stewart and Jon Lantz each put on a Cardinal basketball uniform for the last time on Saturday. The three leave behind a slew of young teammates that should keep Grand Valley competitive as it makes the leap to Class 3A next school year.
Kiburis and the Cardinals wrapped up Saturday by rooting on Grand Valley’s girls in the state title game and 2A Western Slope League mate Paonia as it took on Sedgwick County in the title game.
“We’ll be there,” Kiburis said. “Paonia, since they dropped down six years ago, we’ve always been in a battle with them. A couple of our kids on our team are close friends with their kids.”
It’s no unusual for Western Slope schools to back each other. As Grand Valley chased a state title last year, a rowdy contingent of Western Slopers cheered them on raucously.
Saturday marked the Cardinals’ turn to return the favor.
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The Coal Ridge High boys suffered their first 3A Western Slope League loss of the year Thursday night on the road at Gunnison, falling to the defending league champion Cowboys 65-45.