Teams having dream seasons
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
PEACH VALLEY ” The Coal Ridge basketball teams are in the midst of dream seasons.
Both teams just wanted to make it to the Class 3A District 2 Tournament and now they are going to regionals and making history with each basket they make, each win they get, each game they play.
The girls and boys teams have made it further than any basketball team before them in this the school’s third year of existence. They’ve made it further than any Titan team, period.
The boys, who are a No. 5 seed with a 14-8 record, will face No. 4 Strasburg (16-6) in the first round of the Steve Hill Region on Friday at 8 p.m. The girls, who are a No. 8 seed with a 12-10 record, will play at No. 1 Roosevelt (21-1) at 7 p.m. on Friday in the first round of the John Marule Region.
“We are pretty excited, but to go down and play Roosevelt is going to be tough, but we are just excited to have the opportunity,” Coal Ridge girls assistant coach Damon Martinez said. “It’s exciting and everything we do is new for Coal Ridge.”
The boys enter regionals fresh off a 67-65 overtime win over Gunnison, which gave them a third-place finish in the District Tournament and led to a decent seed in regionals.
“I feel like our seed was very generous,” said Coal Ridge head boys coach Brian Blair. “Getting a No. 5, we should be pretty evenly matched up and it gives us a chance to get out of that first round.”
Blair said he has talked to a few other teams who have played Strasburg this season to find out some of the details on who they have and what they do.
“They have a 6-foot-5 kid who is their leading scorer and a senior point guard who is supposed to be pretty good,” he said. “But we are just going to try and be good at what we do.”
What Coal Ridge does best is play an intense game, with pressure defense that creates turnovers. Their point guard Andy Smedra can find any open teammate ” which could be 6-foot-7 Alex Klein in the paint, guard Eric Schmitz on the perimeter or Skyler James who can cause damage anywhere on the court.
For the first time, the Titans also have seniors on their squad ” five to be exact. And all of them ” James, Zach Lyon, Braxton Jackson, Robbie Higgins and Blake Todd are looking to make their high school careers last as long as possible.
“They are excited,” Blair said of his players. “It’s kind of like everything we do from now on is just cream on top because making it to regionals was our goal then we got out and have a chance to go even further.”
The Titan girls, who took fourth in districts, drew a tougher No. 8 seed and will have their work cut out for them going up against top-seeded Roosevelt.
One thing Martinez believes Coal Ridge has going for it is experience playing tough teams during its regular season, including one that is also a No. 1 regional seed.
“Basalt has been the No. 1 team for a long time and I think having played them is going to help us,” Martinez. “Even Hotchkiss and Olathe, I think the Western Slope is pretty tough.”
The Coal Ridge girls, who are still playing without seniors, have been hindered by injuries this season. They lost Kelly Romero to an ACL tear earlier in the season and Mikaela Guettler went down with an injury in districts. Martinez said she has not practiced this week and is unsure if she’ll be available on Friday.
Without those two able to play, the Titans are left with eight players.
“It is going to give some of the other girls a chance to step up and contribute,” Martinez said. “Like (sophomore) Sam Wilson, she has stepped up her play.”
No matter the outcome of the game, Coal Ridge has taken a step in the right direction with their program. One that should make the Titans’ future bright.
“Just to go down there and play in that environment is going to make our girls better, stronger players for next year,” Martinez said.
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Coal Ridge 69, Grand Junction Central 23