Vail Valley preps: From the stripe, Demons beat Devils
Vail, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Cory Hitchcock constantly preaches the value of free throws to his players.
On Thursday, the Glenwood Springs boys hoops coach’s players proved they’ve been taking his words to heart.
Scoring 18 of their final 20 points from the foul line and hitting at a 28-for-32 clip (87.5 percent) from the stripe on the night, Hitchcock’s Demons held on for a 72-57 win over the Devils.
“We work on our free throws every day in practice,” Hitchcock said. “It’s huge. That’s a testament to my boys. They come out here every day and just work hard. I just tell them that free throws are going to win basketball games. We proved it tonight. Free throws won the game.”
Glenwood hit its final 22 straight freebies of the night and scored 20 of its 29 fourth-quarter points at the foul line.
Kevin Flohr, who led all scorers with 29 points, went 12-for-12 at the line. Nick Ciani, who finished with 12 points, went 8-for-8, and Mike McGraw, who wound up with 11 points, went 7-for-7 at the stripe.
“The scoreboard doesn’t say it, but our defense was very good,” Eagle Valley coach Brent McConaghy said. “Sometimes we’d reach and trap, … and then we’d foul, and we’d foul the wrong guys. The scouting report shows you don’t foul Nick Ciani and you don’t foul Kevin Flohr.”
And, as the coach learned on Thursday, you don’t foul McGraw.
Though the game fell out of reach at the line late, McConaghy’s feisty squad kept it close the majority of the night.
The Devils took a 12-11 lead after a quarter and trailed 25-23 at halftime.
Glenwood used a 9-2 run at the start of the third to open up a 34-25 advantage midway through the frame.
That lead grew to 52-38 in the middle stages of the fourth before Eagle Valley made Hitchcock and the Demons sweat a little with an 11-2 run.
Jeremy Sabo, who led the Devils with 18 points, hit a key 3-pointer as teammate Mervin Vargas drew a foul underneath to kick-start the surge. Vargas hit a pair of free throws to compete a rare five-point play and make it 52-43 at the 4:57 mark.
Buckets by Sabo and Sam Lounsberry and a pair of free throws from Jesse Gish followed a pair of Ciani free throws as Eagle Valley cut the Glenwood lead to 54-49 with 3:23 left.
From there, free throws secured the win for the Demons, who improved to 12-4 overall and to 5-0 in the 4A Western Slope League.
Gish finished with 14 points for the Devils, who fell to 5-9 overall and to 2-3 in league play. Lounsberry and Vargas added nine apiece.
“The effort was always there, the fight to want to do something for another guy,” McConaghy said. “That’s always good to see. … No matter what happens, they’ll be out there in guys’ faces and giving it all their effort.”
Kuhn leads Demon girls
The gaps in the defense were there, but the Demons weren’t finding them.
And Glenwood Springs girls basketball coach Bryan Derby let his team know it.
“Find the open man!” he shouted as the Demons huddled between the first and second quarters of Thursday’s game with visiting Eagle Valley.
From the second quarter on, Derby’s team did just that.
With crisp passing leading to layups and easy buckets, Glenwood coasted to a 55-31 win over the Devils.
“We weren’t patient in that first quarter,” Derby said. “I had a chat with them, and they came out in the second quarter and pretty much did what I asked. We still have things to work on, but for today’s game, they did what I asked.”
The Demons scored the first10 points of the second quarter to turn a 9-4 lead after one into a 19-4 advantage 2:08 later. And they kept piling it on, outscoring the Devils by a 21-9 margin in the second to take a 30-13 lead into halftime.
“We just had a slow start to begin with,” Glenwood junior Connor Adams said. “We just needed to get it going. Once we did, we did find the open people. There were a lot of really good assists.”
Kenzie Kuhn’s 17 points, six rebounds and six assists led the way for the Demons, who improved to 13-3 overall and to 4-1 in the 4A Slope.
Adams chipped in with 10 points, and Lexie Warkentin finished with eight points and four blocks.
Brianna Roth paced Eagle Valley (4-10, 1-4) with seven points and six rebounds. Kayla Gagnon scored six points and grabbed 14 boards, and Madeline Lounsberry finished with six points.
“We battled hard tonight,” Devils coach Sam Bartlett said. “The score was not really a reflection of the way we played. … We cut down on our turnovers, and I think we controlled the glass as much as we could. We had 27 offensive rebounds for the game.”
But Bartlett’s squad struggled mightily in the shooting department. Often settling for long jumpers, Eagle Valley hit at just a 12-for-78 clip (15.3 percent) from the floor.
“We just couldn’t make a basket,” the team’s first-year head coach said.
Thursday marked the second time the teams have met this season. Glenwood won the first meeting, 63-26, at the Demon Invitational back on Dec. 11.