Titan boys fall, girls feed off defense for win over Grand Valley | PostIndependent.com

Titan boys fall, girls feed off defense for win over Grand Valley

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

PEACH VALLEY, Colorado ” Coal Ridge coach Paul Harvey removed his tie and handed it to Grand Valley coach Mark Cowan.

“This, apparently, is good luck for Grand Valley and not for Coal Ridge,” the first-year Titans boys basketball coach joked.

Cowan, the first-year Cardinals coach, chuckled as he took the tie from the former Grand Valley assistant.

“Ah, Paul, you won a state game with that tie on, dang it,” he said, to which Harvey replied, “Yeah, it’s got your mojo, not mine. Keep it.”

Cowan had given the tie to Harvey back in 2007, just before a 2A state tournament game. The tie worked like a charm back then. Harvey and the Cardinals went on to win the state championship.

On Tuesday, the tie held little in the way of luck for Harvey’s new team.

Succumbing to a tenacious Grand Valley defensive effort, Harvey’s Titans found themselves on the wrong end of a 50-35 boys decision with the visiting Cardinals.

“Give all the credit to Grand Valley,” said Harvey, whose team had been averaging nearly 70 points a game coming in. “They played hard and got a nice win.”

Harvey’s words appropriately summed up the Cardinals’ efforts in Peach Valley on


Playing a smothering brand of defense that forced bad shots in droves and a patient style of offense that led to a barrage of high-percentage shots, Grand Valley escaped the first quarter up 16-8.

Continuing to dictate the pace of the game, the Cardinals outscored Coal Ridge 14-12 in the second quarter to take a 30-20 lead into the break.

Avoiding a shootout is exactly what Grand Valley needed, said senior guard Michael Shepard, who chipped in seven second-quarter points and 11 total on the night.

“Our game plan was really to play hard defensively and be patient on the offensive end,” he said. “I think we did it.”

Shepard and the Cardinals continued to do just that in the second half, chipping away at the clock with long possessions. Whipping the ball around the perimeter and keeping the ball out of the Titans’ hands, Grand Valley resembled a football team using its ground game to nurse a big lead.

A 6-0 run to start the half didn’t hurt matters, especially since the surge spanned nearly three minutes.

Shepard admitted it was a little difficult letting the offense take a backseat, but the reward made it well worth it.

“It was tough, but, I mean, I think a win’s more important than trying to score points,” he said. “The way we play defense, if we hold the ball, we waste at least two minutes. … I think it’s worth it.”

Derek Witt led the Cardinals, now 7-3 overall and 5-3 in the 3A Western Slope League, with 13 points. Landon Paskett matched Shepard’s 11 points and Colton Cowan added six.

“The whole credit goes to the kids,” Coach Cowan lauded. “They’re buying in, getting after it. They are a bunch of football players, so they’re willing to do that.”

The loss was just the second of the season for Coal Ridge, now 9-2 overall and 6-2 in the 3A WSL.

Harvey hopes his Titans can glean something from the defeat.

“When I came in (to the locker room), I told them, ‘I’m not going to yell and scream at you,'” he relayed. “I respect them as men. I want them to learn from this. I did tell them in a timeout, ‘That feeling you have in your gut right now ” we need to use that to work harder.'”

Big man Alex Klein paced the Titans with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He also pulled down 10 rebounds and blocked three shots. Eric Schmitz added eight points and Andy Smedra had six.

Defense ruled Tuesday’s opening game at Coal Ridge, too.

Holding the Cardinals to just 13 second-half points, Coal Ridge’s girls basketball team scored a 51-35 win to improve to 7-4 overall and to 5-3 in 3A WSL play.

Morgan Jessup scored 15 points and grabbed five rebounds to pace the Titans, who held a 26-23 halftime lead and fell behind 27-26 early in the third quarter.

But Coal Ridge went on to score nine of the frame’s next 12 points to seize the momentum.

The Titans went on to hit 7 of 10 fourth-quarter free throws to put the game away.

It was all about the defense, said Matraisa Beecraft, who contributed 10 points to the win.

“It was mostly our defense,” she said. “We have to pick up our defense to come out strong. I think our defense shows a lot about our team.”

Coal Ridge had enough offense to go around, too. Beyond Jessup’s 15 and Beecraft’s 10 points. Tori Verdieck chipped in with 12 and Kelly Romero added seven.

Shawnee Young and Erin Vanderpool led Grand Valley, 5-6 overall and 3-5 in the 3A WSL, with nine points apiece.

“You know, Coal Ridge is tough,” Cardinals coach Mike Johnson said. “If they play that well, they’re going to be tough for a lot of people to beat.”

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