Cougars extend win streak with title
The Glenwood Springs Middle School eighth-grade boys basketball team wrapped up its hoops season with another perfect mark.The Cougars, who also went unbeaten during the football season, downed St John 45-21 in the eighth-grade PEG League championship Saturday morning at Carbondale Middle School to win the title and finish the season at 13-0.
“In terms of team sports, this was the final team opportunity for these guys at Glenwood Springs Middle School,” Cougar head coach Blake Risner said. “They did what they set out to do and brought home the championship.”Although the Cougars rolled through the regular season, St John gave Glenwood the toughest games, which convinced Risner to change things up a bit for the title game.”St John has a talented group of players, and each time we played them they were able to make more and more adjustments to our game,” Risner said. “After watching them in the semifinal game I decided to make a risky decision to depart from what we were doing in the previous 12 games.”The Cougars switched from a 3-2 trap defense to a different full-court trap and also changed to a 2-3 zone in half court. The plan worked as Glenwood led 23-10 at halftime.
“It’s definitely a testament to their ability and to the young men on the team to not panic when their coach tells them they are going to change what they’ve been doing all year long,” Risner said. “And to have the wisdom to know it’s going to be beneficial in helping them win the championship.”Dakota Stonehouse paced the Cougars with 14 points, while Bennett Nicola and Jordan Ciani posted nine and seven points, respectively. Eight different players scored for Glenwood.”One of the neat things about this group is they are truly a team,” Risner said. “There are not any individuals out there and they all support each other.
“As a group this is definitely the most successful team that I’ve coached, and that comes from a combination of their athletic ability and coachability,” added Risner, who has been coaching for 11 years.With the PEG League season in the books, the Cougars can now focus on the 2005 American Middle School National Invitational Tournament to be held in March. Then it’s on to the high school level.”All these boys, not just the starters, have the ability to have a huge impact at the high school level,” Risner said.• In the third-place game Rifle Middle School defeated Carbondale Middle School, 33-26.
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