Glenwood’s historic hoops season comes to a close with QF loss to Pueblo West
Glenwood Springs Post Independent correspondent
The Glenwood Springs High School boys basketball team saw an 18-game winning streak — and its season — come to an abrupt halt on Saturday night at Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium, as the Cyclones from Pueblo West High School blew into town and extinguished Glenwood’s Final Four hopes with a nail-biting 44-40 Great Eight Class 4A state playoff win.
It was a tale of two very different halves for the second-seeded Demons, who took a slim 12-11 lead after one quarter of play, only to be outscored by the No. 10 Cyclones 19-4 in the second period to trail at the game’s midway point, 30-16.
Seniors A.J. Adams, John Iuele and Mitchell Burt scored to get the Demons out of the starting gates quickly. Cyclone senior forward Nic Hanenberg, Pueblo West’s eventual second-half hero, got the initial score for his team before a standing room-only gathering in the Demons’ gym.
Pueblo West senior Jimmy Wardle caught fire briefly to hit two 3-pointers, but Demon Adam Schrader leaped high for a rebound and a put back score which was followed by senior forward Patrick Young connecting on a 3-pointer from deep in the right corner to give Glenwood the lead by a single point after 8 minutes had elapsed.
The second quarter was a turning point in the game that would come back to haunt the host Demons for the rest of the evening.
Wardle started off the Cyclone onslaught with his third 3-ball of the game, giving the Cyclones a 14-12 advantage. Then it was Hanenberg, Alex Reid and Taylor Harris all dropping in baskets for Pueblo West to push the lead to 20-12.
Adams scored on a layup for Glenwood on an assist from Iuele to break the Demon dry spell, but it was then time for little-used Cyclone sophomore guard Danny Spence to step to the plate.
Spence hit a jump shot and then cashed in on a pair of 3-pointers, the latter coming as the intermission horn sounded and Pueblo West had completed a whirlwind run to lead 30-16.
Glenwood coach Fred Heisel must have had some magic in his halftime words, because his Demons came out of the locker room and gave the Cyclones a dose of their own medicine by winning the quarter in fine fashion at 13-4 to make things interesting once again.
“We knew they would make a run. They’re a talented team and I give them credit,” Pueblo West coach Ty Trahern said. “But I’m proud of our kids. They really showed some toughness and grit out there. It was a great game to be a part of.”
Glenwood’s big third period was keyed by Young, who hit a 3-pointer and scored on a determined drive to the basket. Adams got a rebound and scored. Senior post Will Narvaez did the same to push the Demons’ run to 10-0. Burt scored on a layup, but then the Cyclones’ Hanenberg managed to hit two short jumpers to keep Pueblo West in front on the scoreboard at 34-29.
It was now time for two Class 4A thoroughbreds to head for the home stretch of the fourth quarter with a photo finish looming at the end.
Glenwood took control of things from the get-go with Iuele scoring on a drive to the bucket, culminating in a soft floating shot. Reserve guard Gabe Kimbrough then completed the Demon comeback with a high-arching 3-pointer to knot things at 34-all and force a Cyclone timeout.
Following a Demon stop on the defensive end, Narvaez put Glenwood up 36-34 with a score on the block. It was Hanenberg to the rescue again for Pueblo West with a 3-pointer to give the Cyclones the lead again with 3:42 left to play.
Adams scored for Glenwood off of a free throw miss by Narvaez as the lead exchanged hands once again. Harris drove for a score for the Cyclones, but Burt connected on a jumper that found every part of the rim before deciding to drop through, giving Glenwood the lead back at 40-39.
Who else but Hanenberg again to the forefront on a driving layup to give the Cyclones a 41-40 lead. A Demon miss and a Pueblo West rebound forced Glenwood to play the fouling game. Pueblo West junior Xavier Hatch made one of two attempts at the charity stripe, giving Glenwood one last chance to tie, or win, trailing 42-40.
After a timeout by Heisel, Glenwood worked the ball patiently until Burt lofted a midrange jumper that was just off the mark. The Cyclones grabbed the rebound — and a trip to the Final Four — as senior Zach Reid marched to the foul line and iced the game for Pueblo West by connecting on both free throws.
Pueblo West (20-6) will face The Classical Academy on Friday night at the Denver Coliseum.
Glenwood (22-4) ends the season with one of the best records, and teams, in the school’s storied basketball history.
“I just told these kids that they have created a legacy that will go well beyond their graduation,” said an emotional Heisel following the game. “All of the young players in this town saw what this group was all about and what they were able to accomplish. They should be very proud of themselves.”
It was the final game in a Demons’ jersey for seven seniors, including Adams, Burt, Narvaez, Iuele, Young, Schrader and Kimbrough.
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