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New plot for District basketball tournaments

Jim Noelker photo.Roaring Fork's Arnie Hernandez contests a shot last week. The Roaring Fork boys open District play at 3 p.m. today at Palisade High School against Hotchkiss.
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The soap opera of tournament time has a new plot line this year.

Gone are the all-or-nothing histrionics of single-elimination play as high school teams compete in their respective District Tournaments.

Instead, area basketball teams will face three-day endurance tests with the extended suspension of a Days of Our Lives cliffhanger.



Teams will settle into the three-day challenge like All My Children charges into ratings week.

The Young and the Restless will battle over the next three days, playing right into the Edge of Night and hoping to avoid General Hospital.



The curtain goes up and the basketball drama begins today – in the 4A and 3A classifications for girls and boys.

Previously a small handful of teams advanced out of District Tournament play into Regionals, in 3A and 4A.

Now, however, both 4A and 3A have gone to 32-team statewide brackets, bypassing the traditional “Regional” games.

The format was introduced to 4A last year with the 32-team State Tournament bracket. A similar format has been employed at the 5A level where 64 teams are seeded into the State Tournament bracket.

After moving to 4A last year, the concept will go down to 3A this year.

That means that of the eight teams competing today through Saturday in the 3A Western Slope District Tournament, six teams will move into the 32-team state bracket.

They, of course, will be battling for the best seeding positions for those six spots.

And in the 4A Western Slope District Tournament, scheduled for Grand Junction, five of the eight remaining teams will advance in both the girls and boys divisions. They will move into the 4A State Tournament bracket, again battling for 1-2-3-4-5 seeding spots.

That means the bracket is basically a double-elimination bracket for the 4A teams.

The Glenwood Springs boys last year used a triple-overtime triumph over Moffat County to squeeze into the state bracket. This year, their bid to return started on Tuesday night when the Demons beat Palisade 71-57 in the 4A pigtail game.

That win will send the Glenwood boys, 3-17, into a District Tournament game today against the league-champion Rifle boys at 8:15 p.m. at the Mesa State College fieldhouse.

Rifle, 14-5, won the regular-season boys title with a 10-2 conference record.

The Rifle-Glenwood Springs winner will take on the winner of the Steamboat boys vs. Montrose game, set for 8:15 p.m. today at Central High School.

The Rifle-Glenwood loser will play the Steamboat-Montrose loser on Friday in the bracket to determine fifth place.

In the bottom half of the eight-team bracket, Cortez will play the Moffat County boys at 4:45 p.m. today at Mesa State. And Battle Mountain will play the Delta boys at 8:15 p.m. today at Grand Junction High School.

Boys games will continue Friday and Saturday at Mesa State and at Central or Grand Junction high schools.

Montezuma-Cortez enters the boys tournament with a prestigious 18-1 overall and a high ranking in statewide 4A polls. The Panthers from Cortez have lost only once this year – at Dixie, Utah. They are unbeaten in Colorado and the finished 10-0 in the 5A Southwestern League.

On the 4A girls side, the Glenwood Springs Demons will play Cortez at 6:30 p.m. today at Central High School. The Glenwood girls are 12-7 overall after an 8-4 conference season.

The Cortez girls are 5-10 after a regular season in the 5A Southwestern League.

The Glenwood-Cortez girls winner will play the Moffat County-Delta winner. The Moffat County girls, 18-1, will play Delta, 3-15, at 6:30 p.m. today at Mesa State.

In the bottom half of the girls 4A bracket, Rifle (11-8) will take on Palisade (7-12) at 6:30 p.m. today at Grand Junction High School.

And the Steamboat girls (7-11) will play the Montrose girls (13-5) at Mesa State at 3 p.m. today.

Girls games will continue Friday and Saturday at Mesa State and at Central or Grand Junction high schools.

Again, the top five teams move on to the 4A State Tournament.

In Class 3A, the girls and boys will play in two different locations today and Friday.

The girls teams will play at Rifle High School. And the boys will play at Palisade.

The Roaring Fork girls (12-5) are set for a 4:30 p.m. game today against Aspen, a pigtail winner over Hotchkiss on Tuesday night. Aspen is 9-11 overall.

Basalt’s girls (18-1) will take on Olathe (5-14) at 7:30 p.m. today at Rifle High School

Other 3A girls quarterfinals include Rangely vs. Paonia and Eagle Valley vs. Cedaredge.

On the boys side, Roaring Fork will play Hotchkiss at 3 p.m. today at Palisade High School.

The RF boys are 9-9 on the season; Hotchkiss is 13-7.

Other 3A boys quarterfinals will feature Cedaredge vs. Meeker, Eagle Valley vs. Gunnison and Aspen vs. Rangely.

Winners and losers will play again Friday in the double-elimination tournament, with the 3A teams looking at qualifying positions 1-2-3-4-5-6.


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