Continuing the rivalry: Montrose, Delta meet on court to establish area bragging rights
Separated by only 26 miles, Montrose and Delta have always been rivals.
Although the two high schools discontinued the football game a few years ago, Montrose and Delta still play each other in most sports.
Today marks the annual meeting on the court as the boys and girls basketball teams will meet at Montrose High School.
“I think the rivalry used to be stronger when we both were (Southwestern League) teams,” Delta coach Von Mitchell said. “But anytime they’re on the schedule, there’s a lot of history that goes along with it.”
Mitchell would know.
The second-year Panthers coach grew up in the Delta area, and said he can remember huge crowds packing the gym for the Montrose games.
“We had a pretty good crowd last year when (Montrose) played here,” Mitchell said. “I expect there to be a good crowd because there are a lot of people around here that just like to watch good ballgames.”
The boys contest could be one of those good, competitive games. Montrose is led by Nathan Robertson, who’s averaging 21 points per game. The Panthers will attempt to counter Robertson’s scoring with players like Ethan Kraai and Eli Baier.
“We are looking to go in and get better,” Montrose coach Troy Youngren said.
The girls game could be more lopsided as the Panthers will have to contain Montrose’s Hanna Bowden. The 6-foot-1 senior was one of the leading scorers in the SWL last year, and has helped lead the Indians to 2-1 record so far. The Panthers are young and return only one starter, Jenni Jones, from last season.
“The girls are excited about the game,” Delta coach Matt Hamm said. “But Montrose is tough.”
The girls play first at 6 p.m., and will be followed by the boys at 7:30 p.m.
On the Tuesday after the Warrior Challenge last year, the Palisade High School boys basketball team knew the 2008-09 season was going to be an uphill battle. The Bulldogs were 0-3 and had lost two games by double digits. On the Tuesday after the Warrior Challenge this season, Palisade realizes it might have something brewing.
The Bulldogs finished the tournament 2-1 and defeated two 5A teams — Douglas County (54-52) and Bear Creek (54-48).
“The kids are really proud of themselves and they should be,” Palisade coach Steve Phillips said. “At the same time last year we came out of the tournament 0-3, and it took us a long time to get some wins.”
A sign of hope from both of the Bulldogs’ wins was that they had opportunities to lose the lead late in the game, but didn’t. Against Douglas County, Palisade overcame a three-point deficit and got key plays down the stretch from senior Jeremy Hayden and sophomore Kane Gunther.
Against an athletic Bear Creek team, Palisade held a 10-point lead at the end of the third quarter. The Bulldogs allowed the Bears to tie the game 48-48, but again closed in the final two minutes.
“We fought adversity and got it done,” Phillips said. “We know we can play a little bit, and we have to keep working.”
Palisade will have another big test today when the Bulldogs host Aspen at 6:30 p.m.
When the Denver Post released it’s All-State softball teams, the Western Slope was very well represented. Leading the way was final four team Central, whose coach, Scott Else, was selected the Class 5A coach of the year. Warriors pitcher Mikayla Duffy was one of four pitchers on the All-Colorado team, as well as being a first-team 5A selection. Also in the 5A ranks, honorable mention honorees included Erika Chirdon and Ashleigh Wissel of Fruita Monument, Kelsey Jull of Grand Junction and Tayler Else, Danielle Romine and Brittany Hoppe of Central.
In 4A, Palisade’s Shelby Hanson and Kendra Barnes were both honorable mention selections and Basalt’s Alexa Aitken earned honorable mention in 3A.