Gwood set to host 21st Demon Invitational
For the 21st consecutive year, the Glenwood Springs boys and girls basketball teams will host a three-day Demon Invitational inside Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium starting tonight against the Faith Christian Eagles at 6:30 and 8 p.m.
Following a trip to Vista Peak last weekend for three games to open the season in the Vista Peak Bison Basketball Bash, the Demons now get a chance to play in front of their home fans for the first time in the 2016-17 season while looking to show the valley that they can compete with — and hopefully beat — some of the top teams in the state in Faith Christian, Canon City and Alamosa.
“When we put together the schedule for this season, we wanted to play against the best in non-conference games to get us ready for our league,” Glenwood Head Coach Cory Hitchcock said. “If we can continue to improve this weekend and hang with these teams, we know we won’t be surprised with anything come the start of league play in January.”
Last weekend in Vista Peak, Glenwood picked up wins over Greeley Central and Berthoud after dropping the first game of the season against Cheyenne Mountain. Now, things get even tougher for the young Demons, led by junior guards Aaron Smith and AJ Crowley and sophomore guard Angel Garcia, as they face the Eagles, Tigers and Maroons this weekend in the Demon Invitational.
Faith Christian comes to town sitting at 1-0 on the season following a win over Platte Valley to start the season. Led by senior point guard Jonathan Hardcastle, junior Jonah Gardner and junior Benjamin Hawkins, the Eagles will look to run often to pick up their second win of the season against Glenwood tonight at 8 p.m. to start the Demon Invitational.
Last season on the first day of the Demon Invitational the Eagles topped Glenwood 66-45, so the Demons will be looking to return the favor this season.
“Faith Christian is a very well-coached, well-disciplined team,” Hitchcock said. “They have a quick point guard [Hardcastle] who’s finally a senior this year; he’s been playing since his freshman year. Overall, they’re a very patient team that will look to wear you down throughout the game, and they have great defensive pressure that forces teams into mistakes, so we’ve been practicing slowing down and being patient. That’s come from the success we had last weekend in our half court offense.
“Overall this weekend we’re not overmatched by any of these teams coming in. They don’t have a ton of size on us, so we should be able to match up with them very well here. This is great competition for our boys; they got some great confidence last weekend going against some of the top teams in 4A. It was a ton of physical basketball over there last weekend, and I don’t think that will happen here this weekend, which is an advantage to us.”
Coming into the year, Hitchcock and his staff wasn’t worried about wins and losses to start the season against some very tough competition, but with a couple of wins to start the season in a tough tournament, the process could be sped up early in the year for a young Glenwood team looking to make yet another trip to the state playoffs.
However, if things don’t go well in the Demon Invitational this weekend for the boys team, it won’t be the end of the world, considering Glenwood went 1-2 last season in its home tournament before then finishing four games above .500 in league play, securing another berth in the state tournament.
“I just told the guys that I want to see them continue to improve overall,” Hitchcock said. “I want to see some guys step up off our bench this weekend so that we can lower some of the minutes for our starters, allowing us to be a balanced team overall. Last weekend our starters really carried the load in terms of minutes, so I’m looking for a few guys to really step up and assert themselves this weekend off the bench against some tough competition.”
Glenwood will tip off with Faith Christian at 8 p.m. tonight before then taking on Canon City on Friday at 8 p.m. and Alamosa on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
GLENWOOD GIRLS LOOK FOR FIRST WIN
Coming off of an 0-3 start to the season at Vista Peak Bison Basketball Bash last weekend, the Glenwood Springs girls basketball team has quite a lot to be optimistic about heading into this weekend’s Demon Invitational against Faith Christian, Canon City and Alamosa.
For one, the Demons were in every single game this past weekend with a chance to go 3-0. On the other hand Glenwood seems to be a really deep team this season, starting with a solid starting five of junior forwards Tatum Peterson and Dani DeCrow, junior guards Ellie Moser and Maddie Bolitho, and senior guard Lauren Howell.
Off the bench the Demons can deploy sophomore guard Ximena Gutierrez and junior forward Saylor Warren at any time and in any situation without a dropoff, while freshman guard Natalya Taylor also gets some early work off the bench under second-year head coach Rhonda Moser.
With a deep team and plenty of experience this season, Glenwood is looking to pick up its first win of the season this weekend in the Demon Invitational.
“We’re really looking to close out some games this weekend,” Peterson said. “We’re just a lot more confident this season and have really come together as a team to start the year. The last few games have pretty close, so we’re looking to finish what we’ve started. It will be a lot more fun this time around to play in front of our home fans this weekend.”
Despite the solid start to the season, a tough showing at home in the Demon Invitational could put Glenwood behind the eight-ball, in a sense, with a young team. However, Moser has stressed time and time again with her team that improvement as a group is a process.
“Obviously we’d like to be heading into next weekend with a .500 record,” Moser said. “But if it doesn’t happen, I’ve told the girls that improvement doesn’t happen overnight. This time last year we were losing by 20-25 points, but this past weekend we didn’t lose by double digits once. That was a huge improvement and benefit for us. Ideally we want to come away with three wins this weekend. I have kids with some grit, so they’re not going to go away if we start slow.”
Across the board, the Glenwood girls match up well with all three schools coming into the tournament in terms of size, speed and age in the lineup. Knowing that, Moser and the Demons feel that they have a chance to win every game this weekend if they come out strong and play a full 32 minutes.
One of the keys to winning the game is an improvement in shooting numbers from outside of the paint for Glenwood. Last weekend in Vista Peak the Demons struggled to knock down shots at times, but with all of the talent Glenwood has, it’s only a matter of time until the Demons start hitting shots with regularity.
For Moser, she hopes that starts this weekend against three tough opponents.
The Demons will tip off with Faith Christian at 6:30 tonight before then taking on Canon City on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
The Lady Demons will wrap up the invitational on Saturday against Alamosa at noon.