State champion Glenwood springs football players make abrupt transition to basketball |

State champion Glenwood springs football players make abrupt transition to basketball

Jeff Caspersen
and Baron Zahuranec
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Brian Ray Steamboat Pilot

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Talk about a quick turnaround.

Many a Demon on Glenwood Springs’ state championship football team also plays basketball. With the boys hoops season starting tonight, that means little rest for a bunch that just beat Fort Morgan to bring home their title on Saturday.

“Probably half our JV and half our varsity play football,” said Glenwood boys basketball coach Greg Hire, who’s been running practices with his non-football playing Demons the past few weeks.

Though a large percentage of his team will have little time to switch into basketball gear, the quick turnaround is something Hire doesn’t mind.

“What a special deal for these kids,” he said. “That’s very amazing. What an accomplishment for these young men.”

Hire’s Demons now hope to do some special things on the basketball court.

Back is a large senior contingent that includes speedy guards Kevin Screen and Dakota Stonehouse and post Patrick Hailey. Bennett Nicola and Jordan Ciani are also part of a big Class of 2009 crowd looking to build on last season’s 15-7 overall record.

There are also a couple of incoming transfers who’ll be worked into the mix when they become eligible to play midway through the season.

The Demons will be without Connor Riley, who suffered a foot injury in the football playoffs, and big man Donnie Jennert, who transferred out of state.

While he called Moffat County and Steamboat Springs the favorites in the 4A Western Slope League, Hire expects good things from his team in 2008-09.

“They’re all such great athletes,” he said. “It’ll be a fun year.”

RIFLE, Colorado ” Last year’s basketball playoffs weren’t kind to the Rifle Bears. It wasn’t as much the playoffs, though, as it was the troublesome Golden Demons, who knocked both Bears teams out of the postseason in the second round.

The boys were beaten by the Demons by five points, and the girls lost to the top-ranked Demons by six points.

The chances of meeting Golden again in the playoff are somewhat slim, but the Demons surely had the Bears’ number last year.

In his seventh season as the boys coach, Chris Lowther’s squad spent a lot of time this summer honing its skills, and he thinks that could put his team in good position at the end of the season.

“We’re using some of the stuff we did this summer, not just starting from scratch,” he said. “They played about 35 games and kind of know some of the offensive and defensive sets.”

The boys went 15-9 overall last season and 11-3 in 4A WSL action. They were second in the league behind Steamboat Springs. Lowther thinks those teams, along with Moffat County, are the best in the Western Slope.

This year, the Bears will rely on their guard play and overall speed. The Bears are on the small side and “there’s nothing you can practice with that,” Lowther said.

“Our guards play quick and fast up front, and our posts are quick, too,” he added. “We definitely have more speed than size.”

The Bears will push the ball up court on the break and, if that doesn’t work, then various sets are in place to run the offense once it gets to be a half-court situation. They’ll work on their patience and that will lead to good shot selection.

Defensively, they’ll use a hybrid matchup zone. When a defender is on the ball, he’ll be playing man-to-man defense while the other four players will operate in a zone. That zone can resemble man-to-man, help-side defense, as interior defenders will collapse on driving opponents.

The Bears have lost a few key seniors in Scott Rust and Keenan Ross, but have junior Tyler Rust and senior Eric Laudick as anchors.

Per game, Rust averaged 13.3 points, three steals, two rebounds and two assists last year. Laudick was the Bears’ second-leading rebounder at six per game and also averaged 8.6 points.

Lowther sees increased playing time for small forward Erving Gomez and power forward Jacob Massey, too.

“I’ve been real impressed with their attitudes,” Lowther said. “The energy is good, and these kids want to get out there and start playing.”

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