Demons advance to second round; Bears sent packing
On the road for the first round of the 4A state playoffs, the 4A Western Slope League co-champion Glenwood Springs Demons boys basketball team pulled off the upset over No. 26 Conifer on Wednesday night, topping the Lobos 56-45 to set up a second round matchup with No. 7 Pueblo West on Saturday.
Against the Lobos, Glenwood would start hot offensively, scoring 16 points each in the first and second quarters to take a 32-21 lead at the half on the road thanks to eight first-half points from junior guard Aaron Smith and six first-half points from junior guard AJ Crowley, quieting the Lobo crowd.
“We didn’t really have a particularly good day of practice yesterday, but I told the boys to be ready to go,” Glenwood Head Coach Cory Hitchcock said. “We had a great shoot-around today as the energy was high and the boys looked like a completely different team. They were focused, hungry and confident in the game plan and executed so well tonight. I’m just so proud of the boys for being able to go on the road three-and-a-half hours away and bust their tails to get a win.”
Holding a 32-21 lead at the half, Glenwood would come out slow in the third, scoring just four points, but fortunately for the Demons they were able to hold the Lobos to just four points, as well, putting Glenwood just eight minutes away from advancing to the second round.
In the final quarter of play, the Demons would hit 11 of 19 free throws down the stretch to seal the first round win. Smith went 6 for 8 in the fourth quarter, and sophomore guard Chano Gonzales went 3 for 6 at the line, allowing him to score seven points in the final eight minutes to put it away.
For Glenwood, Smith led the way with 14 points while Gonzales played one of his best games of the season, finishing with 13 points.
“Chano played his best game of the year,” Hitchcock said. “You could see him getting better and better as the season went on. He came up big for us tonight.”
Crowley would add nine points and seven rebounds, playing more of a facilitator role for the Demons on the road.
With the win, Glenwood is the only 4A Western Slope League team left standing in the state playoffs.
No. 46 Rifle fell to No. 19 Thompson Valley 51-37, while No. 48 Battle Mountain fell to No. 28 Skyview 48-33.
No. 31 Steamboat lost at home to No. 34 Windsor, 51-47, while No. 27 Eagle Valley was upset at home by No. 38 Wheat Ridge, 58-56.
THOMPSON VALLEY 51, RIFLE 37
Despite holding a 24-21 lead at the half in the first round of the 4A state playoffs, the Rifle Bears boys basketball team was unable to pull off the upset on the road, falling to host Thompson Valley 51-37 Wednesday night.
Coming out for the second half with the narrow lead, the Eagles went on to outscore the Bears 19-3 in the third quarter to pull away, sending Rifle home for the spring after the first round of the state playoffs.
For Rifle, senior forward Jacob Boone finished with 13 points while sophomore forward Carter Sturgeon added nine points in the loss. Junior Evan Gray and senior Blaine Vance chipped in with six and five points, respectively.
With the loss, Rifle wraps up the season with a 10-14 (6-6 4A Western Slope League) record on the year.
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