Grand Valley finishes undefeated in league |

Grand Valley finishes undefeated in league

Dave ShivelySteamboat Pilot & TodayGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

HAYDEN With a league as deep as Mike Johnson has seen in his nine years coaching in the Class 2A Western Slope League (District 5), the Grand Valley girls basketball coach wasnt about to take any chances in Hayden Friday night.The senior-loaded Grand Valley girls (7-0 WSL, 16-3 overall) completed their league season undefeated, cruising past the Hayden girls 62-37. The Grand Valley boys followed suit, capping off an unbeaten league season by defeating Hayden, 82-47.Both wins locked up league titles as well as automatic bids through the district tournament into regionals for the Cardinals girls and boys.This was a big win for us, Johnson said of the win that earns his team an automatic berth to the regional tournament. Now were safe we didnt want to mess around (at the district tournament) with a one-and-done upset.The Cardinals Kendall Babler opened the first two minutes of the game draining three consecutive 3-point attempts on her way to 15 first half points. (Babler) hit those shots and it sort of deflates our players, Hayden coach Stephanie Davis said of the immediate 11-1 hole. But I was proud of how they scrapped back and I thought some of our younger players, like Rachael Koehler, did great on the inside.Grand Valleys half-court trap stymied any Hayden attempts at settled offense, not scoring a field goal until four minutes into the game (on an Elaine Cromie put-back).Grand Valley extended its lead to 48-24 with a two-minute, eight-point run in the third quarter, which Holli Salazar, who led Hayden with nine points and six rebounds, ended by working the ball inside on a pair of possessions. Although Hayden continued its full-court pressure into the fourth, it could not overcome the hefty deficit. Babler led all scorers with 17 points, Lauren Schubert added 14 and Whitney Ashcraft led all rebounders with nine boards.Its bittersweet, Babler said of the win. Were excited, but we know that we cant get overexcited because now weve got better teams coming after us.The defending state champion Grand Valley boys team hit the floor running, but Hayden hung with it step for step as both teams spread the floor, looking for easy points in transition. But as the Cardinals shots keep falling mostly off the hand of Tyler Jensen, who scored 13 of his game-high 19 points in the first quarter the Tigers could not keep up. Zach Barnes ignited Haydens offense in the second quarter, scoring nine of his 11 points by scrapping rebounds and finding seams in the Grand Valley defense. The Cardinals speed took over in the second half, as they went on a 16-2 run to establish a 74-36 lead that they held onto for the win.Jordan Williams led Hayden with 17 points with 10 points coming from Chuck Hines. The fourth quarter turned into a Cardinals transition talent showcase with Jensen and Michael Shepard, who finished with 12 points, making steals and throwing no-look and behind-the-back passes to cap off fast break opportunities. Colton Cowan produced throughout the game, earning 18 points while Landon Paskett and Jon Lantz, who had a big fourth quarter, scored 10 and 11 points, respectively.

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