Grand Valley, Coal Ridge girls ready to represent in 3A basketball regionals
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
A stepped-up effort on the defensive side of the ball helped propel the Grand Valley High School girls basketball team to a 3A district championship last weekend.
That same kind of play could go a long way in the Cardinals’ hopes to make the state tournament next week, coach Scott Parker said.
Grand Valley’s 41-33 district title win over top-seeded Delta in Grand Junction on Saturday was a major improvement over what had been the team’s last loss back on Feb. 11 — a 65-53 decision in favor of that same Panthers’ team.
The result? Grand Valley (18-4) earned a No. 4 seed and now hosts one of this weekend’s eight regional rounds of the state playoffs.
The Cardinals kick things off at 5:30 p.m. Friday against No. 29 Buena Vista (11-12). The winner advances to play at 11 a.m. Saturday against the No. 13 Ellicott/No. 20 Colorado Academy winner.
Regional winners go to next week’s Great Eight, to be held at the University of Denver’s Hamilton Gym.
“We were able to keep them off the free-throw line, which was the biggest difference,” Parker, who’s in his second season as the Cardinals’ head coach, said of the Delta win.
Stout defense down the regular-season stretch and into the district tournament resulted in a 6-0 run, and Grand Valley now finds itself in the driver’s seat for a trip to the state tournament.
“We’ve been really playing well on the defensive end all year, but especially the last two or three weeks,” Parker said. “Offensively, we’re attacking the basket a lot better than we did halfway through the season.”
Parker coached the 2015-16 Grand Valley boys basketball team, including his son John Parker, to that year’s Great Eight. Now, he’s had the opportunity to coach his daughter, junior Abbeyrose Parker, with another state tour at stake.
Abbeyrose Parker is the leading scorer on the team this year, averaging 15.4 points per game. Sophomore Jaycee Pittman is the top rebounder, pulling down 7.4 boards per game.
Grand Valley expects to play an improved Buena Vista team Friday night. The teams last met on Dec. 11, a 47-22 win for the Cardinals.
Ellicott enters regionals at 18-4, and Colorado Academy is 14-6 coming into the Friday round at Parachute.
Coal Ridge looks to rebound
Western Garfield County will also be represented in the girls regional round by No. 15 Coal Ridge, which is on the road Friday and Saturday in Greeley.
The Titans (12-6) open against No. 18 Resurrection Christian (14-8). Tip-off is at 7 p.m. Friday.
No. 2 University (18-4) is the host, and plays No. 31 Eagle Ridge Academy (14-8) in the early game Friday.
“We got a pretty good seed overall, and I think we should be able to do some good things,” Coal Ridge head coach Clyde Morgan said. “We’ll see which girls step up to play.”
The Titans bid for a district title got upended in the quarterfinals last week with a 46-42 loss to North Fork, so the regional bid is a chance at some redemption.
Whether the Titans will have senior point guard Railey Largent on the court Friday remains to be seen, Morgan said. Largent injured her ankle in practice just before the second-to-last game of the regular season, and the Titans have been without her since.
“We’ve talked a lot this week about it being time to move forward and see who’s going to be that next person up to take control,” Morgan said.
Resurrection Christian could prove to be a tough test.
“They’ve got some size and are probably a little bit better than what their record shows,” Morgan said. “We’ll need to match up with their shooters and shut down the outside shots.”
Junior Jackie Camunez enters regionals as the leading scorer for the Titans, averaging 14.6 points per game. Senior Clara Carranza is the top rebounder, averaging 6.2 rebounds per game.
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Like most high school sports programs across the nation right now, Garfield County athletics directors are seeing fewer applicants for open coaching positions. Five years ago vacant positions were filled within just a couple of days.