Grand Valley girls upset Holyoke, go to semis
PUEBLO ” Up by one over Holyoke after a quarter, Grand Valley’s girls basketball team knew it belonged at the state tournament.
“I’m not sure we were all that confident going in,” said Cardinals coach Mike Johnson, whose team was up against a higher-seeded team with a 22-1 season record. “At the end of the first quarter, when we were up by one, two or three of the girls leaned in and I could tell they had a look in their eye. Kendall Babler said, ‘Girls, we’re playing so good, we can do this.'”
From there, Babler and Grand Valley were in control of Thursday morning’s Class 2A state quarterfinal at Colorado State University-Pueblo, wearing the third-seeded Dragons down with an up-tempo style of play in a 61-50 win.
Next up for the Cardinals, seeded sixth in the eight-team state tournament, is a state semifinal showdown with 24-0 Rocky Ford tonight at 7 p.m. The Meloneers edged Paonia, 49-42, in a wild overtime quarterfinal.
Grand Valley, which needed its Class 2A Western Slope League regular-season title to make it to Pueblo after Plateau Valley knocked them out of the District 5 tournament in the semifinals, direly needed a confidence boost. With two losses in its previous four games, Grand Valley had taken its licks of late.
“We haven’t played real good basketball in about a month,” Johnson said. “I certainly think we had a great start to the season and a great start to league ” going undefeated in our league is a huge accomplishment ” but, down the stretch, we were battling ourselves a bit. We couldn’t get out of our own way. Today, we played basketball the way we’re capable of.”
Sophomore Erin Vanderpool is a big reason why the Cardinals (18-4) stand two wins away from a state title. She not only shut down Holyoke star Victoria Timm but produced a game-high 20 points of offense in helping her team rediscover the confidence that helped it to 10-game win streak to open the season.
“Erin had one of those dream games where it seems like everything she threw up there went in,” Johnson lauded. “Defensively, she was outstanding. She had two or three steals at halfcourt that led to layups. She had a heck of a game.”
Lauren Schubert scored 16 points for the Cards and Babler added 12.
It’s no shock that a game that started at 8:45 a.m. was won by a team with fresher legs.
“I feel we wore Holyoke down a little bit,” said Johnson, who had his players awake at 6:15 a.m. for a team run. “We got out and ran well like we wanted to do. We really got to apply some pressure to their guards and, at the end, their team looked tired and we didn’t.”
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Facing the loss of five crucial games down the stretch due to COVID-19 quarantine rules, the Glenwood Springs girls basketball team’s postseason fate looked uncertain and totally out of the team’s control.