Demons split with Bulldogs on Senior Night
Playing their final game at home inside Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium on Tuesday, Glenwood senior guards Cameron Horning and Mason Yellico would not be denied victory against the Palisade Bulldogs for a second time this season.
The last time these two teams met Horning’s last-second shot rolled off the rim, handing the Bulldogs a 63-61 win. This time, the Demons returned the favor in the final seconds.
Following a 3-pointer by Bulldog junior guard Tanner Hall that banked in off the glass, Glenwood sophomore guard Aaron Smith received the ensuing inbounds pass from Horning, drawing the intentional foul to send him to the free throw line looking to ice the game.
However, Smith hit just one of two free throws, giving the Bulldogs one last chance to tie or take the lead, trailing 56-54.
That’s when Yellico came up with the biggest play of the game, stepping in front of a Palisade pass at center court before finding Horning, who would draw the intentional foul.
Horning would sink both free throws to stretch the Glenwood lead to 58-54, all but sealing the win.
But, much like Yellico, Horning stole the ball from Palisade junior guard Daniel Mclean near the 3-point line, giving him two more cracks at the free throw line.
He would sink one of two to give the Demons a 59-54 lead that would be the final score as a wayward shot by Palisade senior forward Hunter Mathews clanged off the rim.
“We told Mason to stay with his guy because they were going to try and throw it there,” Glenwood head coach Cory Hitchcock said. “He executed well and got a big steal. Then Cam got a big steal. Those two boys have committed so much, not just to the team, but to me as a coach. Early morning sessions and late nights; it was awesome to see those guys come up big in that situation when we needed to make big plays and the two seniors got those big plays.”
With the win, the Demons improve to 10-9 (8-5 4A Western Slope League) overall with just one regular season game left on the schedule.
Prior to the game against Palisade, Horning, Yellico and fellow senior Colin Brown were honored as members of the 2016 senior class.
Playing with a bit of fire in their final home came, all three came up with big plays for the Demons against the visiting Bulldogs.
As all three seniors shared the court as starters at the tip, the Demons and Bulldogs played a highly entertaining first quarter as Yellico hit a tough layup in traffic, while Glenwood freshman guard Angel Garcia knocked down a left-handed layup in traffic and later buried a 3-pointer from the wing, giving the Demons a 9-6 lead midway through the first quarter.
Not to be outdone by Garcia, Yellico buried a deep triple of his own at the buzzer, giving the Demons a 14-12 lead after eight minutes of play.
Following a Horning 3-pointer to open the second quarter, the Bulldogs silenced the crowd by going on a 17-3 run to take a commanding 29-19 lead, forcing the Demons to take a timeout.
The quick break couldn’t have come at a better time as freshman forward Luke Gair sank two, Horning hit one of two from the charity stripe and junior forward Carlos Nolasco-Montez hit a tough reverse layup, drawing the foul.
Despite missing the free throw, the Demons battled back from a 10-point deficit to head into the locker room at the half trailing by just five points.
Much like they have as of late, the Demons came out and got hot offensively in the second half, rallying from down five points to go on to win by five points.
“These boys knew at halftime that we were panicking a little bit too much,” Hitchcock said. “I don’t think they were ever discouraged, though. The guys are definitely confident in knowing that we’re never out of any game. It was cool to see the guys after the game, knowing that we can compete with the top teams in our league.”
After a back-and-forth third quarter that saw the Demons take a 42-40 lead in the fourth, Glenwood received big contributions down the stretch from sophomore guard AJ Crowley, who repeatedly worked his way to the rim for some big buckets down the stretch, leading to the late heroics of Horning and Yellico.
“That was huge. As a coaching staff we’ve been getting on AJ to be a lot more aggressive, and he’s definitely capable of that at any moment,” Hitchcock said. “We told those guys in the timeout to stop relying on Cam offensively, and I thought AJ did a great job in that moment to step up and attack the rim.”
DEMONS STUMBLE OUT OF GATE ON SENIOR NIGHT
With a super-charged atmosphere on a night where Megan Uren, Vanessa Davila, Madi Hert and Makenna Warren were honored in their final home game as seniors, the Glenwood Springs Demons got off to a slow start against the visiting Palisade Bulldogs before ultimately falling on their home court, 60-31.
Following the emotional pregame ceremony to honor the four Demon seniors, the Bulldogs raced out to an 11-0 lead, shell-shocking the Demons on their special night inside Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium.
Warren’s midrange jumper late in the first quarter was the lone points the Demons would put on the board in the first quarter.
Looking to right the ship in the second quarter, the Demons had their hands full with the menacing full-court press deployed by the Bulldogs.
Forcing turnovers quickly, the Bulldogs were able to make a 16-2 run to open the quarter, capped off by two 3-pointers by Palisade Emma Mueller, giving the Bulldogs a 28-4 lead late in the second quarter.
However, the Demons continued to fight, refusing to quit on a night where they had trouble getting anything going.
Following Mueller’s second 3-pointer, Glenwood junior guard Lauren Howell was able to draw a foul, sinking one of two free throws to stop the Palisade run.
Uren then followed up with a 3-pointer, trimming the Bulldog lead, before sophomore forward Tatum Peterson received a slick hip-pocket pass from Warren through traffic for a tough layup, capping off the Demons’ 6-0 run of their own to get back into the game.
Trailing 30-10 at the half, the Demons came out once again and continued to battle with the Bulldogs.
Uren knocked down a midrange jumper before Warren followed up with a corner 3-pointer. After a quick 6-0 run by the Bulldogs, Glenwood sophomore guard Maddie Bolitho buried a 3-pointer of her own to cut into the Palisade lead.
The Bulldogs then went on another 6-0 run before Peterson answered with a soft sky hook in the lane that flushed home.
Looking to close out strong, the Demons offense got going in the fourth quarter as Warren drilled another 3-pointer, while Uren added another midrange jumper.
Davila hit a tough layup in traffic, drawing the foul. She would sink the ensuing free throw before adding another layup later in the quarter to close out the game.
Despite this season being one full of trials and tribulations for the young Demons squad, head coach Rhonda Moser said she’s learned a lot about the true nature of a team, which is more important than the outcome of any game.
“We might be losing at basketball, but these kids are winning at life,” Moser said. “The tenacity and willingness to keep fighting despite the final outcome is a skill that will serve them well beyond high school. They are teaching me the true nature of a team; I will take that over a win.”
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Montrose will pose a tough challenge for the Demons to win their home tournament. “They’re a team that every year has a well-disciplined program that executes, plays hard and is well-coached,” Glenwood coach Fred Heisel said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.” Game time is 2:30 p.m. at Spencer-Chavez Gymnasium at GSHS.