Preps Feb. 23: Glenwood boys upset in second round, wrestling wraps up

Josh Carney
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Glenwood’s Angel Garcia looks for an open shot as Golden’s David O’Connell looms over him during third-quarter action Saturday. The Demons fell to the visiting Demons 79-61.
Kyle Mills / Post Independent


What looked to be a promising deep run in the 4A state playoffs came to a screeching halt Saturday afternoon inside Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium as the No. 7 seed Glenwood Springs High School boys basketball team came up short against the No. 26 Golden Demons, 79-61, in a second-round showdown at GSHS.

Glenwood, playing for the first time in eight days after a first-round bye in the state playoffs, got off to a fast start before faltering down the stretch, missing 12 free throws in the loss while struggling to slow down Golden’s talented trio in junior guard Kevin Mulligan, and senior forwards David O’Connell and Ilja Bubukin. Together, the three players combined for 50 of Golden’s 79 points, helping the Demons break Glenwood’s tough fullcourt press time and time again.

The loss ends an impressive four-year stretch for Glenwood seniors Holden Kleager, Chano Gonzalez, Kevin Ayon, Wyatt Ewer, Angel Garcia, Erwin Rodriguez and Luke Gair, culminating in three straight 4A Western Slope League championships and back-to-back first-round byes in the 4A state playoffs.

“It’s very difficult. I feel horrible for the seniors that this was their last game,” said Glenwood coach Fred Heisel. “Just like when they win games and I felt great for them, this is definitely tough for me knowing that it’s going to hit them — if it hasn’t already — that this was their last run as a Demon. Especially when I believe that their work throughout the years could have led to a longer run this year.”

Glenwood started fast after the weeklong layoff, racing out to an 8-2 lead over Golden in a battle of the Demons as Gair started the scoring for Glenwood with a driving layup through contact, knotting the game up at 2-2. Gair missed the ensuing free throw, missing out on a possible 3-point play, which unfortunately was a sign of things to come from the charity stripe for the host Demons.

Following Gair’s layup, Garcia hit a 3-pointer from the middle of the arc, while Ayon hit a 3-pointer from the wing, putting Glenwood on top quickly.

Golden didn’t blink as two free throws and a layup from Bubukin made it an 8-6 game in favor of Glenwood. Staying hot, Garcia hit a driving layup, while Ayon hit two free throws and a layup off of a steal, making it 12-6 Glenwood, forcing Golden coach Lou Vullo to call a timeout.

The quick break worked as Golden finished the first quarter on a 9-0 run, as O’Connell hit three layups in transition, and Bubukin hit a 3-pointer from the right corner, sending Golden into the second quarter with a 15-12 lead.

“They got two rebounds in a row in that run, and it turned into a 4-point swing in Golden’s favor,” Heisel said. “They outcompeted us for those rebounds. When they were scoring, it was hard for us to set up our offense and get opportunities of our own to score. When we were scoring early, we were getting points off of rebounds and steals. But when they were putting the ball in the basket we had a hard time executing on the other end of the floor.”

As Golden got going, its offense was able to consistently break Glenwood’s fullcourt press thanks to Mulligan’s handles, and O’Connell and Bubukin made the right passes without panicking against Glenwood’s tactics.

“They got the ball into the hands of the kids who knew how to take care of the ball,” Heisel said. “They got the ball to No. 2 (O’Connell) and No. 34 (Mulligan) and they did a really good job remaining in control, not panicking and making good choices.”

Gonzalez opened the second quarter with two straight layups to give Glenwood a 16-15 lead, but Golden answered with two layups before going on a 7-0 run in the middle of the quarter, taking a 26-18 lead. Glenwood responded with a 4-0 run as Ewer hit a layup off of a steal, while Gonzalez and Ayon split free throws, making it 26-22.

Mulligan and O’Connell went to work late in the second quarter, doing just enough to send the visitors into the locker room with a 32-25 halftime lead.

Looking to regroup in the room at the half, Glenwood appeared to come out ready to go as Garcia drew an early foul at the rim, hitting two free throws.

However, Golden caught fire as junior Ben McLaughlin and Bubukin hit back-to-back 3-pointers, and Mulligan hit two tough shots in the paint, capping off a 10-0 run by the visitors to make it 42-27 Golden, forcing a quick Glenwood timeout.

Ayon and Mulligan traded buckets after the break before Glenwood went on a 7-0 run of its own to make it 44-36 as Garcia hit a 3-pointer, Gonzalez hit a twisting layup, and Ayon knocked in a crazy tip-in at the rim, sparking the home crowd.

Golden held firm as Mulligan hit a runner in transition and junior Jack Anderson hit a floater late in the quarter, giving Golden a 51-40 lead heading into the final quarter of play.

With just eight minutes left in a remarkable season, Glenwood battled hard on its home floor, fighting all the back to within four points at 52-48 as Ewer hit two 3-pointers to open the fourth quarter, and Gonzalez hit a layup off of a steal, forcing a quick Golden timeout. Again, Golden didn’t blink, as the Demons reeled off a quick 6-0 run out of the timeout to make it 58-48.

Garcia drilled another 3-pointer and then added a layup off of a steal, but McLaughlin hit another 3-pointer for Golden, keeping Glenwood at bay.

A 3-pointer from Ewer and a layup by Gonzalez later pulled Glenwood to within five points at 66-61, but Golden closed on a remarkable 13-0 run to put Glenwood away, capped off by two near improbable floaters in the paint by Anderson, and a 3-pointer by sophomore Nathan Wiggins.

Golden went 7-for-10 from the free-throw line down the stretch, which proved to be the difference as Glenwood finished just 8-for-20 from the free-throw line in the loss.

Roaring Fork boys basketball loses to Delta in district final

The Roaring Fork High School boys basketball team lost 50-39 to Delta on Saturday in the district championship game in Grand Junction. Earlier, the Delta girls beat Cedaredge, 40-25, to claim the district championship. The Panthers, boys and girls, went undefeated in Class 3A Western Slope League play this season and had little trouble defending their No. 1 seeds in district play.

The 3A state tournament bracket is expected out Sunday. Based on RPI, the Roaring Fork boys (No. 14 prior to Saturday’s loss) and the girls (No. 23 before Saturday’s district final) should make the field. The Basalt girls (No. 43), Aspen girls (No. 55), Basalt boys (No. 62) and Aspen boys (No. 55) are all but guaranteed to miss the cut.

Glenwood’s Wilson falls short in 182-pound title match at state

Glenwood Springs junior Amos Wilson came up just short in his quest for his first wrestling state championship Saturday night inside the Pepsi Center in Denver, dropping a 6-1 decision to The Classical Academy senior Nathan Johns (34-1) in the 3A 182-pound state championship match.

Wilson fell behind 2-0 early as Johns scored a takedown on the Glenwood junior. Wilson quickly made it 2-1 in the beginning of the second period with an escape from a restart, but Johns closed the match with two takedowns for the 6-1 win.

Wilson reached the 3A state final at 182 pounds thanks to a win by fall over Eagle Valley’s Davis Ward in the semifinal matchup Friday night. Wilson pinned Ward in just 3:41, setting up a state championship showdown with Johns.

Prior to Wilson’s triumph in the state semifinal, the junior opened the state tournament with a win by fall in 1:22 over Englewood’s James Sharp. In the second round, Wilson won by decision (14-8) over Fort Morgan’s Brian Paxton. Wilson earned one of the top seeds in the state tournament thanks to his region championship last weekend.

The talented junior, who is the younger brother of former Glenwood standout and current Iowa Hawkeye Myles, will undoubtedly be one of the state champion favorites in his senior year in 3A.


Basalt High School junior Ernesto Lopez went 1-1 on Friday in the playback rounds of the state wrestling tournament at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Competing in the heavyweight bracket in Class 3A, Lopez lost his opening-round match Thursday. He responded with a win via fall (1:38) over Sterling Austin Garcia before he lost a 7-5 decision to Salida’s Juan Doyle.