Glenwood Springs splits with Faith Christian to open Demon Invitational
Post Independent Contributor
With the arrival of the Christmas season, local basketball fans know the annual Demon Invitational Tournament at Glenwood Springs High School can’t be far behind. The Demon boys and girls were tested by a familiar foe in Thursday night’s first round action, as the Faith Christian Eagles came calling to the Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium.
The youthful Glenwood girls started the evening off in fine fashion, treating the home crowd to a 43-35 victory. The win over the 3A Eagles from the Denver Metropolitan League evened Glenwood’s record at 2-2 for the preseason portion of the schedule.
In complete control for most of the contest, the Demons were forced to overcome an early fourth quarter barrage of Faith Christian 3-pointers, as the visitors tied the game at 35-35 with 1:57 left to play, forcing Glenwood to refocus their efforts to hold on late and seal the outcome on key baskets by seniors Ximena Gutierrez and Emily Worline.
“We weren’t as intense as we were in the first half,” said Rhonda Moser, Glenwood’s head coach. “We let them control that third quarter, but I was proud of how the girls slowed it down there at the end, gained their composure, and pulled it out.”
A 10-0 deficit is what the Eagles were facing in the game’s initial stages as the Demons came out running and full-court pressing. Baskets by senior Ashley Barragan, Gutierrez, and Worline helped fuel the early Demon inferno.
The only offense the Eagles mustered came from forward Ashley Finch, who finished the night by topping Faith in scoring with 14 points. Finch was scored on a couple of soft shots from the block to pull the Eagles within 12-7.
Glenwood senior guard Logan Nieslanik countered Finch’s scoring with a quick trip down the right side of the key for a layup. Sophomore post Graci Dietrich got a rebound and scored on a put back to put Glenwood up 20-9. Junior Hadley Yellico canned a long 3-pointer as the Demons were on cruise control with a 23-11 lead at intermission.
Glenwood grew the margin to 29-13 on a basket by junior Qwynn Massie and two scores from Nieslanik. But the comfort zone the Demons had built for most of the contest completely evaporated with 6:49 left to play as Faith had pulled to within 33-30, setting up the late-game drama for Glenwood.
Gutierrez led the balanced Demon scoring ledger with 9 points. Nieslanik chipped in with 7 points.
Glenwood will face Canon City at 6:30 p.m. on Friday night in the tournament semifinals.
Faith Christian 58, Glenwood Springs 44
On Thursday night inside the Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium, the Glenwood Springs boys raced up and down the basketball court to open the game like a desperado chasing the last boxcar out of town. It caught Faith Christian off guard initially and forced the Eagles to turn the ball over on numerous possessions. But unfortunately for the Demons, their own defensive aggression proved to be their undoing, as a rash of fouls in the first half started a Faith Christian march to the charity stripe that became a key component in the Eagles’ 58-44 win in the first round of play at the Demon Invitational.
“We lost our discipline on defense and started reaching instead of moving our feet,” said Fred Heisel, Glenwood’s first-year head coach. “We gave them the ability to score from the foul line, and to gather themselves and rest.”
Maybe the biggest factor though in Faith Christian’s victory was a decided size advantage inside the painted area. The tall Eagle trio of Isaiah Kroll (21 points), Graham Kroll (13 points), and 6’5” post Caleb Ruter (12 points) controlled the action near the basket as the undersized Demons were limited to one shot at the basket on several trips down the court.
Glenwood’s start to the game was blistering, as they bolted out to a commanding 15-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. Senior Angel Garcia started things off with a free throw and fellow senior Kevin Ayon then scored off an unselfish assist from Chano Gonzalez. Senior Wyatt Ewer hit a 3-pointer from the top of the circle and Garcia matched that with another trey as Glenwood looked almost unstoppable.
In the second quarter the Demons appeared to tire a bit from the quick pace, and the Eagles, under veteran coach Andrew Hasz, began to slow the game to a crawl and look inside for the big boys.
When Ruter hit a jump hook off the glass from the left side of the lane with 2:47 showing on the first half clock, the score was knotted at 20-20, and Faith Christian wouldn’t trail again in the game.
The Eagles continued to build on the lead in the second half as they took a 42-32 lead early in the fourth quarter. Glenwood tried to pick up the pace once again in one last ditch effort to take back the game, but time and again it was the Kroll brothers, or Ruter who reeled in the Demon comeback hopes with inside scores.
Glenwood’s scoring output was topped by Garcia with 11 points. Senior Erwin Rodriguez and Ewer each contributed 7 points, with Ayon and Gonzalez helping the cause with 6 points each.
Glenwood (2-2) will play at 8 p.m. on Friday night against Denver Christian in the consolation bracket of the tournament.
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