Glenwood faces relative unknown in Montrose
It’s been downplayed by both teams, but a win at Thursday’s first round of the Class 4A District 7 girls basketball tournament is very important for both Glenwood Springs and Rifle.
A victory assures all first-round winners of a state playoff game next week, no matter what else happens the rest of the weekend. All four semifinal teams and the fifth-place team earn state playoff berths.
Glenwood, which finished the Western Slope League season in fifth place with a 5-7 record (9-10 overall), has drawn the tournament’s No. 7 seed. The Demons open against No. 2-seed Montrose (12-8), one of two District 7 teams (Montezuma-Cortez is the other) that play in the Southwestern League during the regular season.
No. 3-seed Rifle (9-3, 13-6) faces sixth-seed Palisade (6-6, 6-13) at 6:30 p.m. at Central High School in Grand Junction.
The two SWL teams automatically receive the Nos. 2 and 5 seeds in the tournament.
The Glenwood-Montrose game is scheduled for a 3 p.m. start at Mesa State College.
The winner from that contest goes on to face either No. 3 Rifle or No. 6 Palisade on Friday at 3 p.m. at Mesa. The losers fall to an elimination-round contest at 6:30 p.m.
Friday at nearby Fruita Monument High School.
Going into Thursday’s contest with the SWL Indians, Glenwood coach Deb Henderson feels good about facing a little-known opponent and about her team’s chances.
“I think we’re peaking at the right moment,” said Henderson. “We played Moffat County tough and we only lost by seven points – it was a good confidence builder.”
In that 61-54 defeat to the WSL league champion and No. 1-seeded Bulldogs, the Demon guards had one of their best games to date.
Senior Megan McKinnie finished with 17 points. The team’s other guards, sophomore Keegan Nadon and senior Cassie Carlson, contributed six points each.
“The guards are stepping up and are becoming an important part of the team,” Henderson said. “Some are doing it with shooting, some with defense and some with ball handling, but they are all helping out.”
That, combined with three 5-foot, 11-inch post players in senior Jeri Polowchena, junior Nakita Daniely and sophomore Amber Sutherland, could give Montrose a lot of trouble, Henderson added.
“They are shorter than us,” the coach said of the Indians’ lineup. “They are well-coached, play a half-court game and they don’t run a lot.”
Henderson isn’t worried about the jitters that come with the opening-round of a tournament.
“It’s a game that’s on our schedule and a game we’ve got to play. Whatever happens, happens,” the coach said.
“We’re just focusing in on Thursday and we’re confident enough in ourselves to play hard and do what we got to do.”
Rifle shares the same feelings.
And by no means are the Bears overlooking the Bulldogs one bit this time around.
While Rifle’s gone 2-0 against Palisade to date, the team doesn’t have to reflect too far back to remember how tough it was for them to win their first encounter held in Mesa County.
In week one of the WSL season at Palisade, the ‘Dogs held an early one-point lead in the fourth quarter until back-to-back Krista Wagstrom field goals gave the Bears a 45-40 lead with 5 minutes, 9 seconds left.
Rifle hung on for a 50-46 victory on free throws from Ashley Gavito and Kristen Nefferdorf.
Later in the year, the Bears, at home, posted their second win over the Bulldogs.
Last Saturday, Rifle vaulted into second place in the WSL on a 63-55 victory over Steamboat for the No. 3 seed.
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