No. 7 Glenwood upset by No. 26 Golden in second round tilt
What looked to be a promising deep run in the 4A state playoffs came to a screeching halt Saturday afternoon inside Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium as the No. 7 Glenwood Springs Demons came up short against the No. 26 Golden Demons 79-61 in a second-round showdown at Glenwood Springs High School.
Glenwood, playing for the first time in 8 days after a first-round bye in the state playoffs, got off to a fast start before faltering down the stretch, missing 12 free throws in the loss while struggling to slow down Golden’s talented trio in junior guard Kevin Mulligan, and senior forwards David O’Connell and Ilja Bubukin. Together, the three Golden players combined for 50 of Golden’s 79 points on the afternoon, helping the Demons break Glenwood’s tough fullcourt press time and time again.
The loss ends an impressive four-year stretch for Glenwood seniors Holden Kleager, Chano Gonzalez, Kevin Ayon, Wyatt Ewer, Angel Garcia, Erwin Rodriguez and Luke Gair, culminating in three straight 4A Western Slope League championships and back-to-back first-round byes in the 4A state playoffs.
“It’s very difficult; I feel horrible for the seniors that this was their last game,” said Fred Heisel, Glenwood’s head coach. “Just like when they win games and I felt great for them, this is definitely tough for me knowing that it’s going to hit them — if it hasn’t already — that this was their last run as a Demon. Especially when I believe that their work throughout the years could have led to a longer run this year.”
Glenwood started fast after the week-long layoff, racing out to an 8-2 lead over Golden in a battle of the Demons as Gair started the scoring for Glenwood with a driving layup through contact, knotting the game up at 2-2. Gair missed the ensuing free throw, missing out on a possible 3-point play, which unfortunately was a sign of things to come from the charity stripe for the host Demons.
Following Gair’s layup, Garcia hit a 3-pointer from middle of the arc, while Ayon hit a 3-pointer from the wing, putting Glenwood on top quickly.
Golden didn’t blink though as two free throws and a layup from Bubukin made it an 8-6 game in favor of Glenwood. Staying hot, Garcia hit a driving layup, while Ayon hit two free throws and a layup off of a steal, making it 12-6 Glenwood, forcing Golden head coach Lou Vullo called a timeout to settle his Demons down.
The quick break worked as Golden finished the first quarter on a 9-0 run, as O’Connell hit three layups in transition, and Bubukin hit a 3-pointer from the right corner, sending Golden into the second quarter with a 15-12 lead.
“They got two rebounds in a row in that run, and it turned into a 4-point swing in Golden’s favor,” said Heisel. “They outcompeted us for those rebounds. When they were scoring, it was hard for us to set up our offense and get opportunities of our own to score. When we were scoring early, we were getting points off of rebounds and steals. But when they were putting the ball in the basket we had a hard time executing on the other end of the floor.”
As Golden got going, its offense was able to consistently break Glenwood’s fullcourt press thanks to Mulligan’s handles, and O’Connell and Bubukin making the right passes without panicking against Glenwood’s tactics.
“They got the ball into the hands of the kids who knew how to take care of the ball,” said Heisel. “They got the ball to number 2 [O’Connell] and number 34 [Mulligan] and they did a really good job remaining in control, not panicking and making good choices.”
Senior Chano Gonzalez opened the second quarter with two straight layups to give Glenwood a 16-15 lead, but Golden answered back with two layups before going on a 7-0 run in the middle of the quarter, taking a 26-18 lead. Glenwood responded with a 4-0 run as Ewer hit a layup off of a steal, while Gonzalez and Ayon split free throws, making it 26-22.
Mulligan and O’Connell went to work late in the quarter though, doing just enough to send the visiting Demons into the locker room with a 32-25 halftime lead over the host Demons.
Looking to regroup in the room at the half, Glenwood appeared to come out ready to go as Garcia drew an early foul at the rim, hitting two free throws.
However, Golden caught fire as junior Ben McLaughlin and Bubukin hit back-to-back 3-pointers, and Mulligan hit two tough shots in the paint, capping off a 10-0 run by the visitors making it 42-27 Golden, forcing a quick Glenwood timeout.
Ayon and Mulligan traded buckets after the break before Glenwood went on a 7-0 run of its own to make it 44-36 as Garcia hit a 3-pointer, Gonzalez hit a twisting layup, and Ayon knocked in a crazy tip-in at the rim, sparking the home crowd.
Golden held firm though as Mulligan hit a runner in transition and junior Jack Anderson hit a floater late in the quarter, giving Golden a 51-40 lead heading into the final quarter of play.
With just 8 minutes left in a remarkable season, Glenwood battled hard on its home floor, fighting all the back to within 4 points at 52-48 as Ewer hit two 3-pointers to open the fourth quarter, and Gonzalez hit a layup off of a steal, forcing a quick Golden timeout. Again, Golden didn’t blink, as the Demons reeled off a quick 6-0 run out of the timeout to make it 58-48.
Garcia drilled another 3-pointer and then added a layup off of a steal, but McLaughlin hit another 3-pointer for Golden, keeping Glenwood at bay.
A 3-pointer from Ewer and a layup by Gonzalez later pulled Glenwood to within 5 points at 66-61, but Golden closed on a remarkable 13-0 run to put Glenwood away, capped off by two near improbable floaters in the paint by Anderson, and a 3-pointer by sophomore Nathan Wiggins.
Golden went 7-for-10 from the free throw line down the stretch, which proved to be the difference in the game as Glenwood finished just 8-for-20 from the free throw line in the loss.
“It’s always hard; I’m a coach that believes that anyone that steps up for a shot, it’s going to go in,” said Heisel. “I’m always a little bit surprised when the ball doesn’t go in. It might have been a symptom today [at the line] of a playoff game, and it might have been a symptom of us rushing things and pressing a little too hard.”
In the loss, Ewer led Glenwood with 18 points, hitting four 3-pointers. Gonzalez added 17 points, while Garcia added 12 points, hitting two 3-pointers.
For Golden, Mulligan led the way with 19 points, while Bubukin and O’Connell added 17 and 14 points, respectively.
Golden takes on No. 10 Harrison in the third round. Harrison topped No. 23 Alameda 55-52 Saturday.