Grand Valley crushes Rangely
PARACHUTE – A bout of post-holiday-break rust did little to abate Grand Valley’s push to remain undefeated.Behind a swarming defense and 16 points from Whitney Ashcraft and 15 from Kendall Babler, the Cardinals kicked off Class 2A Western Slope League play with a 54-35 win over visiting Rangely on Friday.The Panthers hung tight early with Grand Valley, trailing just 15-12 after one quarter. That was as close as Rangely would get, though, as the Cardinals showed why they’re an 8-0 team.Forcing 11 second-quarter turnovers, Grand Valley built a 27-18 halftime lead. The Cardinal lead increased to 11 after three before the hosts exploded for 18 in the final frame to blow the game wide open.Grand Valley coach Mike Johnson wasn’t shocked it took his squad a bit to find their pre-break rhythm.”We struggled early a little bit,” he conceded. “You could tell we’ve been practicing about three weeks without a game. I wasn’t real pleased with the way we came out, but we kind of settled in and started playing our style of game.”That style of game included a full-court, pressure defense that more than effectively rattled Rangely, which dropped to 1-6 with the loss. “Once we started dictating our tempo, our pressure defense, getting out and running the break, things started going more our way,” Johnson said.On offense, Ashcraft and Babler levied the bulk of the damage. The senior duo flashed some nifty teamwork in putting up their game-high point totals, with Babler making habit of feeding Ashcraft passes in the paint.With Babler transferring to Grand Valley this year, the two have worked tirelessly to get on the same page. “When we first started, we weren’t really connecting,” Ashcraft noted. “This summer, her and I were doing really well. It took a while for us to get back to that.”If Friday served as any indication, the two are back to their summer form. Babler finished with a game-best five assists. Ashcraft’s offensive output was the highest of her career.”I’ll tell you what: Whitney really stepped up tonight,” Johnson said. “It was a career high for her in points. She’s been working hard. I’m glad to see her get some real inside production.”Lauren Schubert chipped in with nine points and Erin Vanderpool eight points for the Cardinals, who travel to Nucla this afternoon. Lyndsey Tonder finished with six steals.Victoria Phelan paced Rangely with nine points.
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