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Grand Valley set for surprise despite doubts on top scorer

PARACHUTE – Despite their youth, the Grand Valley boys basketball players have displayed the ability to surprise opponents and fans alike all season.”We have a lot of young kids this year, and they just got better throughout the season,” head coach Scott Kiburis said of the 11-11 Cardinals.At the beginning of the 2004-05 season, few thought a young Cardinals squad would advance out of the district tournament to one game away from reaching the Class 2A state tournament.Grand Valley has accomplished that feat. On Saturday, the Cardinals can earn a berth in the 2A state playoffs with a win over Dolores in the regional championship game at Grand Junction High School.The down part for Grand Valley is the Cardinals will have to win without leading scorer Sam McKinley in the lineup. The sophomore had his season cut short after suffering a knee injury in the first half of Grand Valley’s eventual 47-44 win over Hayden in last weekend’s district semifinals.On the flip side, the Cardinals have seen the 17-4 Bears up close. In December, the teams hooked up in the Grand Valley Roundball tournament, and the Cardinals eked out a 73-71 win.”Without McKinley, I don’t really want this (game) to be as much of an up-and-down-the-court,” Kiburis said. “We’re short a player, and a very good defensive player, so hopefully it doesn’t go up-and-down, because I don’t know if we enough horses for a game like that.”But, the loss of McKinley’s 19.4 points per game doesn’t mean Grand Valley is without offensive punch.Dylan Culver, who takes over at point guard, can light it up from anywhere on the floor. In the previous meeting with Dolores, Culver had a season-high 45 points and he averages 16 per contest.The Cardinals also hope center Luke Braby will add to the team’s offense by scoring some buckets on the inside.”We’ll hopefully play a better possession game and keep the score down a little bit,” Kiburis said.While the Cardinals’ goal is to advance to the state playoffs, Kiburis is pleased with what the 2004-05 club has been able to accomplish.”Being where we’re at is a successful season,” he said. “And with a young team – each step, as far as we go – it’s going to help us in the future.”


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