Demons sweep Bulldogs behind defense, ball movement
Fast, aggressive defense and some outstanding ball movement in the second half Thursday night inside Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium led the Glenwood Springs Demons girls basketball team to an impressive 48-23 win over the visiting Palisade Bulldogs in 4A Western Slope League action, giving the Demon girls their first win over the Bulldogs since the 2013-14 season.
Following a rough first half at both ends of the floor that saw the Demons turn the ball over 13 times yet hold a 17-11 lead at the break, Glenwood came out in the second half and promptly ran away with the game, thanks to a suffocating brand of defense led by guards Ashley Barragan, Maddie Bolitho and Ximena Gutierrez, and some efficient offense in the paint from senior Tatum Peterson, who returned from a five-game absence.
The Demons trailed 11-10 late in the first half, but an 8-0 run to close the half sent the Demons into the break with the lead, showing a sign of things to come in the second half as Bolitho stole the ball in a half-court trap and laid the ball in for two points. Senior forward Ellie Moser stepped into a 3-pointer and splashed it home before Peterson swatted a shot in the paint, leading to a Dani DeCrow layup at the other end, allowing the Demons to head into the break riding high.
Coming out of the locker room, the Demons pushed the pace as Glenwood opened the second half on a 9-0 run as Peterson banked home two shots off of assists from Moser, while Moser drilled a corner 3-pointer off of an assist from Bolitho and Gutierrez muscled into the paint for an offensive rebound, a putback follow and the foul, pushing the Demons out to a 26-11 lead early in the third quarter.
Palisade tried to stop the second-half run as Lexi Newton split a pair of free throws, but Glenwood was relentless at both ends as Bolitho hit a tough runner from the right block to make it 28-12 Demons, leading to a two straight layups from Peterson off of assists from DeCrow and Bolitho, and a backdoor cut and layup from Barragan on a slick feed from Bolitho, putting the game well out of reach.
“I thought it was amazing the way we shared the ball tonight,” Glenwood Springs Head Coach Rhonda Moser said. “It was one of the most well-rounded scoring games we’ve had here, and there was a ton of super-unselfish play from the girls tonight. It doesn’t matter who scores or how we get it done, as long as we get it done. I was super proud of them in the second half. We were just frazzled in the first half. They played patient offensively after getting stops in the second half and things just went from there.”
Glenwood went on to outscore the Bulldogs 21-5 in the third quarter as all five Palisade points came from the free throw line before DeCrow hit a layup and Gutierrez drilled a jumper off of an assist from Barragan to close out one of the best quarters of the season for the Demons with Glenwood well in front, 38-16.
Holding an 22-point lead heading into the final quarter of play, the Demons kept their foot on the pedal as Gutierrez started the fourth with a steal and a mid-range jumper to make it 40-16 before Palisade went on a mini 3-0 run as standout senior forward Anita Ramos split a pair of free throws before senior guard Alison Bollinger got a putback shot to fall off of Ramos’ missed free throw.
The Demons continued to share the ball well, creating a number of easy looks as senior forward Saylor Warren slipped behind the Palisade defense for an easy layup off of another assist from Bolitho.
Ramos hit a runner at the other end, but Moser stepped up again for the Demons, drilling her third 3-pointer of the night to make it 45-21 Glenwood.
Things slowed down drastically from there as Palisade made two trips to the free throw line, going 2-for-4 before Glenwood sophomore Celia Scruton came off the bench with a number of other Demon reserves and stole the ball, set up the Glenwood offense and then ultimately grabbed an offensive rebound, drawing a foul. The sophomore guard split a pair of free throws with under 10 seconds left before junior guard Logan Nieslanik picked up a loose ball off of Scruton’s missed free throw and buried a mid-range jumper at the buzzer to cap off the 48-23 win in league play over the Bulldogs.
Against the Bulldogs, Glenwood recorded an astounding 17 steals on the night as Gutierrez and Bolitho led the way with a combined seven thefts.
“I thought we played a great pressure defense,” Moser said. “When we went down to Palisade earlier in the year, they kind of took us out of our defense. We went into a zone and made some changes that we probably shouldn’t have. Tonight, I said to the girls that we needed to play our game, which is an aggressive style of defense. We knew what players we had to watch in Ramos and Newton, and I think we did a great job shutting down both. Those were our goals.”
Along with the aggressive defense, Glenwood recorded 13 assists on 20 made field goals, with Bolitho (4) and Barragan (3) leading the charge.
Peterson led the Demons in scoring with 10 points, while Moser added 9 points. Gutierrez and Bolitho chipped in with 6 points each, while junior guard Emily Worline scored 5 first-half points to keep the Demons afloat early on.
Glenwood (10-7, 5-2 4A WSL) will hit the road Saturday afternoon for a matchup with the Grand Junction Central Warriors in a nonconference matchup.
Glenwood Springs 51, Palisade 38
Picking up where the Glenwood girls left off defensively, the Glenwood Springs Demons boys basketball team leaned on its defense and some unselfish offensive basketball to roll to a 13-point win over the visiting Palisade Bulldogs, 51-38, in 4A Western Slope League action inside Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium.
Glenwood held leads of 18-9, 31-14 and 40-21 at the end of the first three quarters before playing a bit passively in the fourth quarter, allowing the Bulldogs to battle back to within 8 points before pulling away again late for the 13-point win.
“I thought we quit playing with some energy, and I thought the boys got a little comfortable,” Glenwood Head Coach Cory Hitchcock said. “We got a big lead and quit being aggressive, started relaxing and got lazy on the defensive end. As a basketball team, we’ve got to keep our foot on the gas pedal and continue to play our style of basketball. We got away from that tonight.
“These boys now, for four straight games, have built big leads and allowed teams back into it for silly reasons. We’ve just got to go back to the drawing board and fix some things. I, as a coach, have to teach and show the kids the correct way to play, and I need to do a better job of leading this team.”
Despite some disappointment after yet another tough fourth quarter in a league win that should have been a much larger margin of victory, the Demons can take some positives from the game as a whole, thanks to some strong defensive play from the entire roster.
The Demons shut down Palisade standout center Zane Haas for three quarters and forced a number of turnovers on the perimeter thanks to pressure defense, which has become a staple of the Glenwood program under Hitchcock.
The Demons used their defense to create offense in the first quarter as Glenwood raced out to a 13-2 lead off of 3-pointers from seniors AJ Crowley and Aaron Smith, as well as junior Angel Garcia, while junior center Holden Kleager rolled to the rim on a pick-and-roll for an easy layup off a feed from Smith. Junior point guard Kevin Ayon added to the lead with a steal and a layup, forcing an early Palisade timeout.
A 3-pointer from junior Wyatt Ewer and a layup by Crowley sent the Demons into the second quarter with an 18-9 lead, which led to an 11-0 run in the middle of the second quarter, allowing the Demons to create serious breathing room at 29-11 as Kleager hit another tough layup over Haas off of a feed from Smith, while Crowley hit a 3-pointer and a layup, junior guard Chano Gonzalez buried a 3-pointer and junior forward Luke Gair split a pair of free throws.
Palisade stopped the run with a 3-pointer from junior guard Logan Tarman, but two free throws from Garcia sent the Demons into the half with a 31-14 lead.
In the third quarter Glenwood continued to play strong defense and get efficient shots on offense as Ewer scored 5 points in the third quarter alone, while Ayon and Kleager added 2 points each in the frame to give Glenwood the 40-21 lead after three quarters of play.
“I thought we played great defense in the first half and definitely in the third quarter as well,” Hitchcock said. “When we play defense the way we’re capable of playing, great things happen for us. But when we get lazy, start reaching and stop boxing out, that’s when we let teams back in the ball game.”
That’s exactly what happened in the fourth quarter as Palisade scored eight straight points from the free throw line to pull to within 42-34, but two free throws from Smith, a free throw from sophomore Adam Schrader and a huge 3-point play from Smith in traffic helped the Demons cap off a big league win on home floor.
In the win, Crowley led the way with 12 points, while Smith scored 8 points. Ewer, Garcia and Kleager added 8, 6 and 6 points, respectively, for the Demons.
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This season, when I attend basketball games at Glenwood Springs High School for this newspaper, I sit in the stands on the south side of the gym with a clear vantage point to all of…