Sense of urgency back for Demons
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — There’s no sense that Glenwood Springs High School’s girls basketball team is letting their foot off the proverbial gas pedal. Not this week, anyway.
“The first game is the most critical,” second-year Glenwood coach Jacky Gaddis said. “My understanding is that if we lose two, we don’t go to the state playoffs. It’s a crazy deal.”
That might not seem like a big deal for the sixth-ranked Demons (19-1), who clinched the Class 4A Western Slope League title a week early and lost their first game of the season this past weekend. That earned them the top seed in the eight-team 4A Western Slope District Tournament, which opens today in Grand Junction.
But unlike past years, regular-season league champions don’t receive an automatic state tournament berth. Six of the eight teams in the tournament earn a state berth — regardless of league finish — and the season will end for the two tournament teams that open with two straight losses.
So when Glenwood opens the tournament against Durango (7-11) at 6 tonight at Brownson Arena, there’ll be plenty of motivation there for the Demons.
In more ways than one.
“We owe that floor something,” said Gaddis, whose team lost by lopsided scores to Montrose (52-25) and Rifle (46-25) in last year’s district tournament. “I don’t know what happened, but we just didn’t show up. This time, it’s nice that we get to show up as the No. 1 seed.”
The Rifle Bears (9-9) will show up as the No. 5 seed in the tournament, opening with fourth-seeded Eagle Valley (12-8) at 3 p.m. today at Palisade High School. A victory by both the Bears and Demons would not only clinch a state tournament berth for both teams, but would match both teams up for third time this season at 6 p.m. Friday at Brownson Arena. The other side of the bracket includes No. 3 Montrose (13-7) vs. No. 6 Steamboat Springs (11-9), and No. 7 Delta (9-11) against No. 2 Palisade (13-7).
Glenwood is looking forward to tonight’s game based solely on the uniqueness of the matchup. Durango — also nicknamed the Demons — is a team Glenwood hasn’t played this season. Glenwood, however, opened last season’s district tournament with a 48-24 victory over Durango.
“It’s nice to see someone different,” Gaddis said. “It’s not quite as exciting to either play Eagle Valley for a fourth time or Rifle or a third time. But it doesn’t matter what we did against them last year because they’re a different team now, just like we are.”
Durango plays in the Southwestern League, which combines 5A and 4A teams from Durango up to Grand Junction. They finished 5-5 in SWL play this season and hung tough in both meetings with Grand Junction High, which won the league title and has been ranked in the Associated Press 5A poll this year. Their top scorer, Emily McCue, averages 14.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.
Glenwood, however, is paced by senior point guard Delaney Gaddis, who scored a career-high 31 points in her team’s 62-53 loss to second-ranked Mesa Ridge this past Saturday. Junior Madi Spence averages a double-double (13.8 points, 10.6 rebounds), and Jordan DeCrow (11.0 points, 29 3-pointers) is also a scoring threat. Gaddis also leads Class 4A in steals (5.5 per game) and assists (5.5).
The biggest scoring threat in the WSL comes from Rifle, however. Senior Chante Church (18.9 points, 5.8 rebounds) is the WSL’s top scorer and is the third-highest scorer in Class 4A who, on Feb. 8, reached 1,000 career points scored. The Bears’ opponent in that game is also their next one: Eagle Valley.
Also playing big for the Bears has been Carsyn Copeland, who has four double-doubles this season and had three straight double-double games in January. Sophomore Emily Neuroth has played big as of late for Rifle, recording career highs in points (15) and rebounds (11) in Rifle’s last game against Eagle Valley.
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Rifle High School wrestling won its matchup with Glenwood Springs Tuesday at the Glenwood triangular, while the Palisade Bulldogs took down both local teams.