Demons, Bears set for showdown |

Demons, Bears set for showdown

Phil Sandoval

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – One team is in first place. The other is trying to join them at the top of the Class 4A Western Slope League standings.

Throw in those factors – along with a history of exciting contests, which seemingly never fail to be resolved until the final buzzer – and it should be enough to draw a big crowd for tonight’s Glenwood-Rifle girls’ basketball game at Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium at Glenwood Springs High School. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Glenwood, 2-1 in the WSL (6-4 overall), is currently in fourth place in the seven-team WSL, a game behind Steamboat, Moffat County and Rifle.

First-year Demon coach Deb Henderson is aware of the rivalry between the two neighboring schools, but admitted Wednesday the attention the game draws, “has not set in for me yet.”

“I’m just thinking of it as another game,” she said. “But the girls know about it, and they’ll be ready.”

The Demons received a wake-up call in its 48-28 loss to Palisade two weeks ago, when Glenwood shot 29 percent from the field and, according to Henderson, the Demons “weren’t mentally ready.”

“Then we got our heads up and got after it, and we came back with two wins,” said Henderson of the team’s recent turnaround.

Both victories – against Delta and Battle Mountain – were by big margins. A factor, Henderson said, was balanced team play.

The coach noted the play of Amanda Whiting, Megan McKinnie, and Nikita Daniely as keys to the Demons’ current two-game winning streak.

Henderson has managed to scout Rifle twice, and came away impressed.

“They are a well-coached team with strong guards and are very patient offensively,” she said of the Bears.

The Demons do have a height advantage over the Bears, which Henderson hopes to utilize.

Three of Glenwood’s starters, senior Jeri Polowchena, Daniely and Whiting measure 5 feet, 11 inches, 5-11, and 5-10, respectively. And if Henderson wants to, the coach can go bigger by adding 5-11 forwards Amber Sutherland or Leanna Lawson to the mix.

Rifle’s a little smaller, but still matches up well.

Starters Krista Wagstrom, one of the team’s leading scorers, is 5-11. Guard Julie McWilliams is 5-10. Subs Montanah Matthies and Renee Laudick are 5-11 and 5-10, respectively.

The Bears (3-0, 7-3) are on four-game winning streak. They defeated WSL opponents Delta, Palisade and Battle Mountain in the current run along with a 45-37 win over Class 5A Fruita Monument.

The 53-27 win over Battle Mountain, moved the Bears’ record to 3-0 in league and 7-3 overall.

Rifle head coach Rick Schmitz has been through 13 years of Bear-Demon contests, and is well aware that games between the two schools are different than any other contests on the schedule.

“I told the players after the Battle Mountain game that this is the best rivalry on the Western Slope, but It’s a healthy rivalry,” Schmitz said.

“It’s totally different playing them than anyone else,” he continued. “You can throw out the records, the talent level of both teams. I’ve been in 26 or 27 games against them and it’s been pretty even.”

“All five of their starters can score, are good shooters and really go after the ball,” Schmitz said of the Demons. “They are good athletes, and we feel like they will be a contender in the league.”

Schmitz said the Bears have improved since Christmas and he likes the direction the squad is heading.

Ashley Gavito and Wagstrom average 12 points per-game each, but others on the team have come forward to take the pressure off the two forwards.

“When we have other people step up, we’re a tough team and we’re tougher to defend,” said Schmitz.

Contact Phil Sandoval

at 945-8515, Ext. 538

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