Grand Valley could see lucrative winter season in sports | PostIndependent.com

Grand Valley could see lucrative winter season in sports

Josh Carney
Post Independent
Grand Valley's Indra Griggs (12) goes up for a layup two seasons ago at home against the rival Coal Ridge Titans. Griggs is a key returning senior this winter for the Cardinals under head coach Scott Parker.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Girls basketball and wrestling see a number of key faces return this winter for the Grand Valley Cardinals, but boys basketball went through a major turnover due to graduation.

Fortunately for the Cardinals, veteran head coach Scott Parker returns at the helm of the program, while senior forward Indra Griggs returns as the focal point of the offense. The Cardinals are in a similar spot to where they were a few years ago due to major departures in graduation, but Parker and his staff have shown time and time again that they can retool on the fly, which should keep a proud Grand Valley program competitive in a tough 3A Western Slope League.

Isaac Pittman takes over the girls basketball program after former head coach Jake Higuera moved to De Beque to become the head coach of the Dragons’ boys program. Pittman was a long-time assistant under Higuera and inherits a talented roster led by star guards Shaya Chenoweth and Jordyn Pittman. The Cardinals don’t lose much from last season’s squad that finished second in league play. Fortunately for the Cardinals, the league saw three new head coaches take over the top programs, so Grand Valley should remain near the top of the league standings once again in 3A on the Western Slope.

Wrestling sees state champion AJ Serna return under the guidance of head coach Clint Whitley. With a state champion in the mix, all eyes will be on the Cardinals’ wrestling program that returns a large amount of state-level talent under Whitley.

Boys Basketball

Head Coach: Scott Parker, seventh season

Last Season: 18-6 (6-3 3A Western Slope League), lost to Alamosa 57-39 in the second round of the 3A state playoffs.

Key Returners: Wade Weiss, Sr.; Indra Griggs, Sr.; Brandon Millius, Sr.

Players to Watch: Alex Cornejo, Jr.; Blade McCormick, Jr.

Season Outlook: The Cardinals lost quite a bit of talent due to graduation, but Scott Parker sees standout senior forward Indra Griggs and senior backup guard Wade Weiss return from last season’s group, giving the Cardinals some offensive punch this winter. However, the Cardinals need to break in a number of new players under Parker this season, which could lead to a transition period for a strong Grand Valley program. “We’re in a similar situation we were in a couple of years ago,” Parker said. “We’re going to do the same thing we did then. We don’t have a lot of varsity experience, but these kids have played together for a long time.” The Cardinals open the season Thursday at Jefferson Academy at 8:30 p.m.

Girls Basketball

Head Coach: Isaac Pittman, first season

Last Season: 15-8 (7-2 3A Western Slope League), lost to University 54-39 in the first round of the 3A state playoffs

Key Returners: Jordyn Pittman, Jr.; Shaya Chenoweth, Sr.; Loghan Teter, Jr.; Tabitha Call, So.

Players to Watch: Bailey Radel, Fr.; Katie Ray, Fr.; Taygann Schoeppner, Jr.; Magen Olinger, Jr.; Kirstin Medina, Jr.

Season Outlook: As Isaac Pittman slides into the head coach’s role for the Cardinals after a few years as an assistant, Pittman inherits a talented group, led by lightning-quick, all-state caliber guards in senior Shaya Chenoweth and junior Jordyn Pittman. Grand Valley likes to play up-tempo in hopes of running teams out of the gym offensively, while forcing a number of turnovers defensively. Don’t expect much to change under Pittman. “I expect things to be pretty similar to last season,” Pittman said. “The nice thing this year is we’ll … have a bit more depth. That will afford us to be a bit more aggressive than we were so last year. I see us still being near the top in the league. Three of those four top teams all have new coaches, so that will be interesting to watch and see how things affect things. I still see us being really competitive.” Grand Valley has aspirations of a regular season league championship and a district tournament league championship. With a ton of talent returning and a deep bench, this could be the year for the Cardinals.

Wrestling

Head Coach: Clint Whitley, second season

Last Season: AJ Serna won the state champion in the 120-pound weight class; Michael Kelly competed at the state meet at 220 pounds.

Key Returners: AJ Serna, Sr.; Jon Pena, Sr.; Isaiah Tigert, Jr.; Hector De La Cruz, So; Hector Arzate, Sr.

Athletes to Watch: Derrick Medina, Fr.; Caleb Frink, So.; Hayden Grice, Fr.; Asa Grice, Jr.; Isaac Tigert, So.

Season Outlook: The Cardinals see a state champion return in senior AJ Serna, while also welcoming back four other talented upper classmen. This is a deep, talented team in Grand Valley that could see Serna repeat as a state champ, while also seeing a number of other wrestlers compete at state this year. “I’m hoping for more of a full team,” Whitley said. “We won’t have a full roster, but we’re going to be really close. That might allow us to be a little more competitive on the duals side of things. I think it would be really great to have a few more wins as a team. I’m looking forward to having a lot less openings in the lineup.

“We have a good chunk of seniors. We will be bringing a few to state again and competing on that level again.”

jcarney@postindependent.com