Grand Valley splits games with Olathe |

Grand Valley splits games with Olathe

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

PARACHUTE, Colorado ” The tiny bandages just above Dalton Penner’s left eye exemplified everything the Grand Valley boys basketball team is about in 2008-09.

“We’d do anything for each other,” said the 6-foot-5 senior, wounded while trying to make a play in a 51-39 win over visiting Olathe on Saturday. “The last few games we’ve played for each other.”

Diving all over the court for loose balls, playing tenacious defense and patiently waiting for open looks on offense, the Cardinals polished off a perfect weekend by holding off scrappy Olathe down the stretch.

The win followed Friday night’s exhausting trip to Gunnison, a journey that produced a 37-32 victory over the Cowboys.

Grand Valley coach Mark Cowan worried his team might be a little worn out after a long trip and what he called an “unbelievable” Friday night battle.

“I’m really proud of the kids,” praised Cowan, who’s in his first year as the team’s head coach. “They did a great job of staying focused. They didn’t just give up and played hard the majority of the game.”

Cowan and assistant coach Roger Walters, a defensive guru, have changed the way the Cardinals play basketball. Grand Valley had been a dribble-drive motion team in previous seasons, a team that relied on a high-scoring offense to win games.

This season, the Cardinals have relied on defense and making the most of every single possession to get by. The new approach is growing on the players and, as a result, the team is growing closer.

“You can feel we are more together now,” Penner said. “No matter what, we’re flying on defense and that’s what we want to be known for ” our defense. We’re trying to get away from last year’s mentality of just chucking it up.”

The shift in mentality ” from an approach centered on finesse to one rooted in grit ” has the Cardinals sitting at 6-3 overall and at 4-3 in the 3A Western Slope League.

On Saturday, it was Michael Shepard leading the way with 10 points. Penner added eight points and two blocks, followed by Cole Kraft and Derek Witt with seven points apiece and Colton Cowan chipping in six points and six assists.

Richard Tofoya led Olathe with 16 points, eight of those coming in the fourth quarter and keeping the Pirates (3-7 overall, 1-6 in the 3A WSL) within striking distance. Levi Weber added seven points and Kenny Smith had five.

Ice-cold shooting performance costs GV girls

A 14-of-48 shooting performance doesn’t often yield a victory, but Saturday proved an exception for Olathe’s girls basketball team. That’s because its opponent, host Grand Valley, hit just 9 of its 43 shot attempts.

The end result: a 37-25 win for the 3A WSL-leading Pirates.

“It was a real offensive barnburner,” Olathe coach Paul Althaus sarcastically quipped. “Defense is what we’ve preached all year long. The kids have bought into it for us. We’re a young team, so I figured our offense would be the last thing to come along.”

Both teams came out of the gates ice cold, with the Pirates taking a 6-5 advantage into the second quarter and the teams combining to turn the ball over 13 times and go 4-for-20 from the field.

Olathe’s defense continued to clamp down in the middle quarters, holding the Cardinals to just six points apiece in each frame to go up 28-17 after three.

Despite six points from Shawnee Young, Grand Valley couldn’t get over the hump in the fourth quarter, falling to 5-5 overall and to 3-4 in the 3A WSL. The Cardinals saw leading scorer Erin Vanderpool sit much of the game due to foul trouble.

Young led Grand Valley with nine points, while Kasi Jensen chipped in six points and 11 rebounds.

Emily Brummit led Olathe, 7-3 overall and 6-1 in league, with 11 points. Briana Vigil added 10 and Kelsi Middleton added seven.

Grand Valley is at Coal Ridge on Tuesday. The Cardinals lost to the Titans by a bucket (40-38) in a Dec. 12 meeting.

“We’ll have to have our focus for that one,” Young said. “We’ll have to be as a team, hopefully.”

Olathe is off until a Thursday trip to Gunnison, the last of five straight road games for the Pirates.

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