Demons fight hard, fall in 1st round of 4A boys tourney
Special to the Post Independent
Thomas Jefferson 67, Glenwood Springs 52
GLENWOOD SPRINGS (52) — Jake Gentry 1 0-0 2, Matt Osier 1 0-0 2, Mason Yellico 3 0-0 7, Zack Peterson 3 0-0 6, Brian Burbidge 2 2-2 8, Cameron Horning 6 5-6 19, Austin Gonsalves 1 0-0 2, Will Gray 2 2-4 6. Totals: 19 9-12 52.
THOMAS JEFFERSON (67) — Ravel Moody 5 2-4 17, Sergio Garcia 0 2-2 2, Gabe Thaxton 2 3-3 7, Josh McNair 8 4-5 21, Evan Gould 3 0-0 9, Bryce Settles 0 1-2 1. Totals 22 13-18 67.
Glenwood Springs 18 9 13 12 — 52
Thomas Jefferson 16 19 19 13 — 67
3-Point Goals: Glenwood 5 (Yellico, Burbidge 2, Horning 2), Thomas Jefferson 9 (Moody 5, McNair, Gould 3). Total Fouls: Glenwood 15, Thomas Jefferson 15. Fouled Out: Burbidge. Technicals: none.
GOLDEN — Glenwood Springs High boys basketball coach Cory Hitchcock believed, coming into Friday’s first-round Class 4A state tournament game with Thomas Jefferson, that if his team could hold the Spartans to their season average of 28 percent from 3-point range, the Demons could hang tough.
Unfortunately for Glenwood, Thomas Jefferson got very hot from beyond the arc. Coupled with a suffocating defense, the Spartans ended Glenwood’s season with a 67-52 victory.
The Spartans had 11 losses during the regular season. In some of those, they didn’t shoot particularly well, especially against a zone defense. That wasn’t the case Friday.
“We were hitting our shots tonight,” TJ coach Grant Laman said in an understatement.
They hit six of their first seven, including a trio of 3-pointers.
Undaunted, Glenwood attacked the basket to turn a seven-point deficit into a two-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
Then the Spartan defense bowed its neck. They used their athleticism and range to force six turnovers. Glenwood attempted just five shots in the second quarter, making three field goals and three free throws, but trailed 35-27 at halftime.
“It’s hard to shoot the ball when you turn it over,” Hitchcock said. “We had four straight possessions when they scored [because of turnovers].”
Still, the mettle of the Demons was to find a way back. They cut their deficit to six in the third quarter.
The Demons had a particularly difficult time stopping Spartans 6-foot-5 senior guard Josh McNair, who finished with a game-high 21 points.
“They were driving into contact,” Laman said. “If possible we like to play man-to-man (defense). We couldn’t.”
But another quick string of turnovers allowed Thomas Jefferson to rebuild its lead. In all, the Spartans hit nine 3-pointers.
Cameron Horning paced Glenwood, nearly matching McNair’s total with 19 points. Glenwood, which finished its season 19-5, came a long way since the beginning of practice in Novemeber, said Will Gray, one of seven seniors capping their career.
“I think we made a lot of progress,” said Gray, who finished with six points and a team-high four rebounds.
He noted that TJ, one of the top teams the Demons played all season, thwarted Glenwood’s chances to box out on rebounds and slow the pace on offense.
“We needed to step back and set up plays a little,” he said.
Hitchcock got emotional when talking about his upperclassmen.
“This senior class — they’re a special group,” he said. “They’ve come 360 degrees in skills. “I demanded a lot from them and they responded. You couldn’t ask for a better group of kids. They changed the culture of this program.”
It’s a foundation Gray believes will be resumed by the returning players.
“I felt we left a good example for the others to follow,” he said.
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