Onto Great 8 for Glenwood Springs boys basketball after win over Green Mountain
Glenwood Springs Post Independent correspondent
The Glenwood Springs High School boys basketball team took a commanding lead at the midway point of Wednesday’s Class 4A playoff game and then held off a late rally by Green Mountain to punch its ticket to Saturday’s Great 8 round with an emotional 56-50 win.
“We were able to beat a really good team tonight with our defense and rebounding. That’s what we have hung our hats on all season long,” Glenwood coach Fred Heisel said. “As long as we stayed active and kept playing good defense, we didn’t give them much.”
Playing in front of a capacity crowd at the Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium, Glenwood’s version of Batman and Robin — John Iuele and Mitchell Burt — provided the offensive spark for the Demons in what was a methodical first half of play by both teams.
With Iuele scoring Glenwood’s first seven points of the game, the Demons managed to pull out to an 11-2 lead after the first quarter. Burt contributed a baseline jumper and senior post Adam Schrader hit from the foul line to also give Glenwood a boost during that span.
The Rams fought back and made a brief charge at the Demons when junior guard Austin Peterson dropped in a 3-pointer and senior post Jason Luzayadio flushed down a two-handed dunk to bring the visitors close at 13-10. Schrader hit a layup off a slick feed from Iuele and Burt hit high with a 3-pointer and a scoring drive to the basket as Glenwood had now taken back the all-important momentum from the Rams.
Iuele then dropped in a couple of layups, one off a cross-court feed from Burt, and the other just prior to the halftime horn, as the Demons charged into the locker room in complete control of the game.
The pace of play picked up considerably in the third stanza, and the Demons started off the final half with a hot hand and a steely resolve to keep their season going.
Burt netted a 3-pointer following a patient offensive set by Glenwood. Iuele swished a 2-pointer and senior Patrick Young found his offensive game with a 3-pointer to give the Demons a 30-18 cushion.
“Mitch (Burt) and John (Iuele) are so talented that we all feed off of them,” Young said. “I always just try to fit in and find my shots whenever the opportunity is there. These guys are so fun to play with. I wouldn’t trade them for anyone.”
Senior Will Narvaez made a spin move and scored from the block for Glenwood and fellow senior A.J. Adams, who controls the paint along with Narvaez and Schrader, hit two free throws as the Demons took a 38-24 lead with one quarter to play.
“My role is to fight and battle down low with the other team’s big men, and to try and get the boards on the offensive and defensive end,” Adams said.
With a sizeable advantage, it began to look as though Glenwood could start to make practice plans for Thursday and a game plan for Saturday, but Green Mountain had other ideas.
Sophomore Blake Nieslanik started off the fourth period for Glenwood by scoring from the paint after grabbing a big rebound. The Demons looked to be safe, and on cruise control, leading 40-24.
Iuele hit a 3-pointer off an inbounds play and Young scored on a hard drive to the basket. Burt hit his target with a 3-pointer on a diving assist from Iuele to make it 49-33 in favor of the Demons with 4:02 showing on the clock. Things then took a slight turn to the south for Glenwood.
Peterson hit a pair of 3-pointers and senior guard Blake Schell, who led the Rams with 19 points on the evening, did likewise. Coach Heisel was then forced to use a timeout with his team suddenly clinging to a scant 51-45 lead with 1:39 to go.
Following the plan, Glenwood spread the court and forced the Rams to chase after the ball and ultimately foul to make the Demons decide things at the charity stripe.
That’s exactly what they were able to do, with Young calmly lofting in a pair of freebees and Iuele adding one of his own. A desperation 3-point make by the Rams at the buzzer accounted for the game’s final count.
With the light of the evening shining brightly on Glenwood’s talented starting five, it was the bench play that also came through again for the Demons, allowing Heisel to give valuable rest to his regulars throughout the contest.
“Coming in off the bench, I just try to help in any way that I can,” Schrader said. “We all feed off John (Iuele). He always finds us. But mostly, I just try to leave the nerves on the bench.”
Reserve senior guard Gabe Kimbrough echoed much the same sentiments as Schrader.
“I’ll do whatever I can to help when I get in there, especially on the defensive end,” Kimbrough said. “I just try to disrupt the other team and be a pest. I’m not going to force anything on the offensive end. This group is a team. This is not a selfish bunch.”
Iuele had 19 points to lead the Demons. Burt’s solid evening produced 17 points, with Young chipping in with 10 points.
Glenwood (22-3) now finds itself one step away from the 4A Final Four. The next obstacle will come on Saturday when the second-seeded Demons host No. 10 Pueblo West. The Cyclones pulled off the 56-54 upset over No. 7 Harrison from the Colorado Springs Metro League, also Wednesday night. Saturday’s game time has not yet been determined.
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