Glenwood girls pull away late for 14-point win over Littleton
It wasn’t pretty by any means, but the No. 34 Glenwood Springs Demons girls basketball team got the job done Tuesday night in Littleton, knocking off the No. 31 Lions 40-26 in the first round of the 4A state playoffs.
Junior center Qwynn Massie had a huge second half for the Demons on the road, pouring in all 10 of her points on the night, while the Demon defense clamped down in the final five minutes of the game, holding Littleton scoreless to pull away for the 14-point win on a night in which they turned the ball over 30 times and really struggled with Littleton’s press.
“That’s the thing — we turned the ball over a lot, but the girls did a great job of getting back on defense and taking care of business on the defensive end,” said Rhonda Moser, Glenwood’s head coach. “That’s important. We know our shots haven’t been falling as of late, but we can control our defense. The girls certainly did that tonight.”
Early on it looked like Glenwood was going to be in for an easy win as the Demons held a 9-1 lead after one quarter of play. Littleton couldn’t buy a field goal in the first quarter and couldn’t seem to take care of the basketball, while Glenwood seniors Emily Worline and Ximena Gutierrez connected on 3-pointers in the first quarter, and sophomore forward Graci Dietrich came off the bench to hit a layup and senior Afton Larsen hit a free throw.
Glenwood’s defense remained tough in the second quarter as Littleton again couldn’t hit a field goal until the 3:12 mark of the second quarter when junior Jasmyn Thompson-Harvey hit a layup to make it an 11-3 game. Following Littleton’s first field goal of the game, action picked up at both ends as Worline connected on her second 3-pointer of the game before Littleton’s Brooke Wolanin went 1-for-3 on free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt in the corner, and Thompson-Harvey split a pair of free throws to make it a 14-5 game.
The Demons answered right back with a 3-pointer from Larsen before Littleton closed the first half in a flurry as Thompson-Harvey hit a jumper and a 3-pointer late after two Demon turnovers, setting the stage for a wild second half as Glenwood went into the locker room with a 17-10 lead.
Coming out of the break, the Demons seemingly forgot how to break a press as Glenwood matched its first-half turnover number with 11 third-quarter turnovers, allowing the Lions to battle back.
Littleton junior Susie Puchino hit a jumper to open the second half before Gutierrez answered with a putback layup to make it 19-12. The two teams then traded free throws, but a layup from Massie started her strong second half quickly, making it 23-13 Glenwood.
A steal and a layup from Puchino and a jumper from Wolanin sandwiched a jumper from Worline, making it 23-17 Glenwood before Massie went to work in the paint again, hitting a tough shot in traffic for a 25-17 Glenwood lead.
The Lions again closed quickly as junior Ellie Fuchs hit a jumper and a 3-pointer to cut the lead to just 3 points at 25-22, but Massie hit a layup late in the third to give the Demons just enough breathing room at 27-22 heading into the final quarter of play.
In the fourth, the Lions opened the final quarter with a 3-pointer from senior J’la Ervin, making it a 2-point game at 27-25.
The Demons didn’t panic, though, as they continued to pound the ball inside to Massie, who hit a putback and a layup on consecutive possessions, making it 31-25 Glenwood.
“We made an adjustment at the half and put Ximena [Gutierrez] in the high post,” said Moser. “That way we had two players around the paint, and Ximena did a great job of making good passes to Qwynn down low. Qwynn had some great seals down low and led to some good looks. She [Qwynn] really stepped up in the second half for us and made some big shots and sank some free throws.”
A free throw from sophomore Ashton Haddock made it 31-26, but that would be the final point of the night for the Lions as Glenwood clamped down defensively and took care of business at the free throw line, converting 5-of-8 free throws down the stretch. Following Haddock’s free throw, Glenwood senior Logan Nieslanik made the second-biggest shot of the night following Massie’s layup at 29-25. Nieslanik drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 34-26 Glenwood with just under five minutes to play, leading to Glenwood’s strong finish.
“I’m just super proud of these girls,” said Moser. “To come off of what we did last week was tough, and then to come down here to Littleton on a school day was difficult, but these girls stepped up. I’m really happy for them.”
On the night, Glenwood’s defense held Littleton to just 19 percent shooting from the floor while forcing 27 turnovers. Glenwood shot just 26 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 30 times but was able to emerge victorious in a sloppy game.
Massie led the Demons with 10 points, while Worline added 8 points. Larsen added 6 points and 5 assists off the bench, while Gutierrez added 8 points. For Littleton, Thompson-Harvey and Fuchs led the way with 10 and 5 points, respectively.
The win sends the Demons into the second round of the state playoffs for the second straight season under Moser. Glenwood travels to No. 2 Holy Family (18-5, 15-1) Friday night for the second round matchup in Broomfield.
“[To reach the second round again] Speaks volumes to their tenacity,” said Moser. “We’re a super gritty team. For us to let them get within two and then pull away by 12, it shows how hard these girls work. We could have gotten frustrated, but we stayed focused and really battled.
“We as a coaching staff before the start of the season said if we could get to second round again it would be a good season. Everything else is gravy at this point, but we’re looking forward to going to Holy Family on Friday and giving them everything they can handle.”
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