Defense paces Grand Valley girls to 40-29 victory |

Defense paces Grand Valley girls to 40-29 victory

PARACHUTE ” Sometimes, being good at one thing is good enough.

Grand Valley’s offense sputtered in Saturday’s 40-29 win over Rangely in the first round of the Class 2A District 5 girls basketball tournament. But the Cardinals’ defense made up for their woes on the opposite end of the court nicely.

Grand Valley, the No. 2 seed in the eight-team tournament, posted a zero on the No. 7 Panthers in the first quarter and continued to force defensive pressure on Rangely the entire contest.

“We didn’t do very well shooting,” said coach Mike Johnson. “But we played great defensively.”

The final stats back up the coach’s comments.

Rangely hit only seven field goals in 45 attempts against Grand Valley’s defense. The Cardinals were only 12-of-54 from the floor.

What they were able to do offensively was connect from the free throw line. Grand Valley hit on 14-of-24 attempts to distance themselves from the Panthers in the second half.

The Cardinals never trailed on Saturday, but they couldn’t afford to get very comfortable either.

“Their zone (defense) gave us a little bit of trouble,” Johnson said. “But we weren’t being very aggressive early and we weren’t knocking down any shots.”

“Once we got rolling in the first quarter, we missed a ton of easy shots. We got some offensive rebounds like we wanted to, but we couldn’t convert.”

Despite the shooting problems, the Cardinals managed to string up a 12-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Rangely, however, scored 10 of the next 16 points to cut Grand Valley’s lead to 18-10 at intermission.

The Panthers stayed within striking distance deep into the third period until a 4-0 run sparked by Jamie Vance’s field goal, combined with two Holly Steltzlen free throws, moved Grand Valley to a 28-16 lead.

Free throws were the Cardinals’ best offensive weapon. As a team, Grand Valley was 14-of-24 from the line and tossed in 5-of-8 attempts in the fourth quarter to distance themselves further away from Rangely.

The Cardinals’ accuracy at the free throw line gave them a 16-point lead with 4:33 left.

Vance led all scorers with 13 points. Forward Melinda Johnson played a key role for Grand Valley by pulling down 12 rebounds. Rangely senior Cassie Fuller, who finished with 11 points, was the only other player on either team to reach double figures.

The district tournament resumes Friday in Parachute where Grand Valley faces a semifinal match against Hayden, which defeated Soroco, 39-33, in a first-round game played Saturday. The winner from Friday’s games advances to the district championship on Feb. 29.

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