Late steal, clutch free throws lead Demons over Huskies | PostIndependent.com

Late steal, clutch free throws lead Demons over Huskies

Glenwood Springs Demon Tatum Peterson pushes through the defending Battle Mountain Huskies during Friday night's game.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

The Glenwood Springs Demons’ boys basketball team found itself in a dogfight Friday night inside Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium against the visiting Battle Mountain Huskies.

Playing their third game in four days, the Demons were sluggish at times, but when the lights were the brightest, Glenwood turned to the fundamentals of the game to pull off a 56-52 win over the Huskies in 4A Western Slope League action against an undisciplined Battle Mountain team. They remain perfect in league play one night after winning the league championship on the road at Steamboat Springs.

Junior guard Angel Garcia picked the pocket of Battle Mountain’s Owen Routolo near mid-court with under 30 seconds left in the game, racing in for the layup all alone to push Glenwood’s lead to 54-47, before senior guard Aaron Smith went 4 for 6 from the free throw line in the waning seconds to give the Demons a hard-fought win.

“That was just a terrific defensive play by Angel,” Glenwood Head Coach Cory Hitchcock said. “At that point in the game, it was a critical play that we needed to give us the advantage, and he came through on the defensive side of the ball.”

Prior to Glenwood’s late-game heroics, the two teams never created much separation as Glenwood’s largest lead of the night was just nine points, which came early in the fourth quarter. Glenwood struggled with Battle Mountain’s size on the defensive end as senior Devin Huffman poured in 22 points for the game while sophomore center Liam McKenny added 12 points and the duo caught the ball behind the Glenwood zone on the low block and went to work in the paint.

However, Battle Mountain struggled to defend Glenwood’s athleticism and depth. Junior forward Luke Gair started the game for the Demons with an offensive rebound and a layup before Garcia drilled a 3-pointer from the right corner to give the Demons an early 5-2 lead. Following a jumper from Battle Mountain junior Baker Gentry, Glenwood senior forward Gabe Suarez stepped into a 3-pointer of his own to make it 8-4 Demons early in the league contest.

Battle Mountain fought back as Huffman hit two free throws and a jumper, but Smith responded with a jumper of his own to make it 12-8 Glenwood. Following a layup from senior forward David Caballero, Battle Mountain forced a turnover and found Huffman, who rose up for a dunk just past the reach of Gair, who got a partial block, tying the game at 12-12 late in the quarter and firing up the Battle Mountain faithful. Fortunately for Glenwood, junior center Holden Kleager sank two free throws right before the end of the quarter to give the Demons a 14-12 lead after a spirited first quarter of action.

The pace slowed dramatically in the second quarter as the two teams found themselves stuck in half-court sets, forcing points to come down to who executed better. The Huskies held the edge in that department in the second quarter as Huffman started off with a layup, while McKenny hit a layup and split a pair of free throws to tie the game up at 17-17 midway through the quarter.

Glenwood senior AJ Crowley gave the Demons a brief 19-17 lead with a twisting layup past the long reach of Huffman in the paint, but McKenny answered with another layup of his own to knot it up at 19-19. Again, Crowley and McKenny traded shots as the two teams went into the half tied at 21-21, which led to a crazy second half.

Coming out of the locker room for the second half, Glenwood created some breathing room as the defense tightened up and the offense found its footing. Crowley started the half with a putback shot, while Smith and Gair hit buckets in the paint to take a 27-21 lead, forcing a quick Battle Mountain timeout.

Huffman answered with four straight points out of the Huskies’ stoppage before Suarez hit a layup off of a slick feed from Garcia in transition. That’s when things took a turn in the wrong direction for the Huskies, who seemed more worried about arguing calls from officials rather than playing basketball.

Huffman received a technical foul for language following a foul on Smith in the paint, which led to Crowley splitting the technical free throws and Smith splitting the shooting foul free throws, giving Glenwood a 31-27 lead and the ball. Taking advantage of the extra possession, Garcia blew past Routolo at the top of the key and coasted in for an uncontested layup, igniting the home crowd.

Battle Mountain tried to close the gap late in the quarter as senior Qwahn Kent hit two free throws and Huffman hit a pull-up jumper, but a turnaround jumper from Gair just before the horn sent the Demons into the final quarter of play with a 37-33 lead.

Glenwood quickly extended that lead as Crowley buried a 3-pointer from right in front of the Demon student section before Suarez canned a step-back jumper, giving the Demons their largest lead of the night.

The Huskies didn’t go quietly, though, as Huffman and junior Liam Hanagan hit tough shots in the paint while McKenny converted a 3-point play in the paint to pull to within four points at 46-42. Glenwood junior guard Chano Gonzalez came up big down the stretch for the Demons with an offensive rebound and a putback shot amongst the trees of Battle Mountain in the paint, but Huffman kept the Huskies close with a layup at the other end.

Holding a 48-44 lead, Gonzalez sank two huge free throws to make it 50-44 before Kent splashed home a 3-pointer at the other end to make it 50-47 late. That’s when Smith and Garcia went to work.

Smith sank two free throws to make it 52-47 following a Battle Mountain timeout, which led directly to Garcia’s steal and layup.

McKenny got a putback shot to fall to keep the Huskies alive as Smith missed two free throws, leading to a 3-pointer from Gentry to make it 54-52 in the heated matchup. But Smith was calm, cool and collected at the line late despite missing his previous two free throws. The senior converted his final two free throws with barely a tickle of the twine, giving the Demons a huge win over the Huskies to remain undefeated in league play.

Crowley led the Demons with 14 points, while Smith added 13 points, including six points off of free throws in the fourth quarter. Suarez and Garcia added 7 points each for the Demons, while Gonzalez and Gair added 6 points. Glenwood (18-4, 11-0 4A WSL) will host the rival Rifle Bears on Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. for Senior Night.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

GLENWOOD SPRINGS 61, BATTLE MOUNTAIN 32

Friday night’s league game against the visiting Battle Mountain Huskies started slow for the Glenwood Springs Demons’ girls basketball team, but much like it has of late, the team caught fire from beyond the arc and cruised to yet another lopsided win down the stretch, topping the Huskies 61-32 to remain in the 4A Western Slope League championship race.

Despite getting out to a 7-0 lead to start the game off of two buckets from senior point guard Maddie Bolitho and a layup from senior Dani DeCrow off assists from senior center Tatum Peterson in the high post, the fatigue of three games in four nights appeared to catch up with the Demons midway through the quarter, allowing the Huskies to battle back.

Possibly sensing the fatigue setting in, Glenwood Head Coach Rhonda Moser turned to her bench, which resulted in a 10-3 run by Glenwood to close the first quarter. Sophomore Natalya Taylor and junior Ximena Gutierrez ran early and often for the Demons, setting the tone at both ends of the floor, leading to an 11-point 20-9 lead after one quarter of play.

“Sometimes, Natalya will come off the bench, miss a shot and get frustrated. But tonight, she was super confident and went to the hole every time; I don’t think she missed a shot all night,” Moser said. “It was great to see from her tonight.”

As Gutierrez and Taylor pushed the pace, Glenwood settled in from the floor, leading to some big 3-pointers as senior Ellie Moser — coming off of a big night on Thursday at Steamboat — drilled the first 3-pointer of the game for Glenwood early in the second to give the Demons a 24-12 lead. Moments later, Moser then splashed home a mid-range jumper in transition, which seemed to put the Demons in a groove as junior Emily Worline came off the bench and nailed a 3-pointer of her own and a jumper in transition off of an assist from Gutierrez to send the Demons into the half with a big 31-14 lead.

After finding an offensive rhythm in the first half, Glenwood came out and found that same comfort zone in the second half, ripping off a 10-0 run to start the third quarter. Senior center Tatum Peterson hit two free throws before Moser and DeCrow went back-to-back with 3-pointers to make it 39-14 Glenwood. Bolitho then capped off the run with a jumper before Battle Mountain’s Audrey Teague hit a 3-pointer of her own to stop the Demon run.

“We were a bit sluggish early on tonight, which can often be the case playing three games in four nights and the trip to Steamboat [Thursday night],” Moser said. “I was pretty proud of how the girls came out of the half and made a statement.”

Following a steal by Gutierrez, the junior guard — while seated on the court — found a wide open Bolitho for a layup at the other end to keep Glenwood well in front. Not to be outdone, Taylor capped off the quarter with a coast-to-coast layup to send the Demons into the final quarter of action with a 47-19 lead.

In the fourth, Peterson and fellow senior Saylor Warren hit shots in the paint before the starters gave way to the backups to close out the win.

Junior Qwynn Massie hit a shot in the paint before Worline blew by her defender at the elbow and skied for a layup and the foul, sinking the ensuing free throw to give Glenwood a 30-point lead at 57-27.

Taylor then hit two free throws before junior Logan Nieslanik closed out the game with a mid-range jumper to give the Demons a 61-32 win.

In the win, Taylor finished with 12 points, while Peterson added 9 points. Bolitho, Worline and Moser all scored 8 points in the win for Glenwood (13-8, 8-2 4A WSL).