Defense lifts Plateau Valley past Stratton
LOVELAND — Plateau Valley felt a little bit more like Plateau Valley on Friday afternoon.
Less than 24 hours after a drubbing from three-time defending Class 1A boys basketball state champion Caliche, the Cowboys regained their defensive identity and some confidence in a 51-37 victory over Stratton in the consolation bracket.
“They’re just one of the hardest-working teams I’ve ever had,” Plateau Valley coach John Holmes said. “I told them in the locker room what makes me proudest of them is how they respond in the face of adversity. Every time this year they’ve taken a dip in the road, they’ve responded extremely well.”
The victory moves the Cowboys into the fifth-place game against Norwood at 11:30 a.m. today at the Budweiser Events Center.
After Thursday’s loss, Holmes presented the Cowboys (17-5) with two choices against Stratton: “Replicate what we did (Thursday) or we can come out and play the basketball we know how.”
The decision was obvious —the Cowboys came to play.
Senior Teddy Grundy led the Cowboys with 24 points, but their defense proved decisive, allowing Stratton (16-10) only six field goals in the second half. The 37 points for Stratton is its second-lowest point total of the season.
Grundy admitted although he doubted he and his teammates would forget about the loss to Caliche anytime soon, he said the defeat, in which the Cowboys trailed 51-19 at halftime, drove them Friday.
Grundy got off to a hot start with nine points in the first quarter as Plateau Valley never trailed.
Plateau valley threatened to run away with the game twice in the first half, stretching out to leads of 15-9 and 23-15, but Stratton responded each time.
The Cowboys ensured, however, their advantage was always growing in the second half. After their lead slipped from 33-23 to 33-28 with 52 seconds left in the third quarter, the Cowboys held Stratton without a field goal for the next 6:31.
“We played four quarters of great man defense,” Holmes said. “I was impressed every shot was contested.”
When Cordell Burton, who had 10 points for Stratton, finally broke the drought with a 3-pointer, the Cowboys had the game in hand, up 45-34 with 2:21 to play.
“That’s what we pride ourselves on, is the defense,” Grundy said.
Kyler Smith added eight points, Doug Eberhard had seven and Fernando Enriquez six for the Cowboys.
Today’s meeting between Norwood and Plateau Valley will be the third this season. The first meeting resulted in a 49-47 Norwood victory on Dec. 16, and the Cowboys responded by winning 57-36 on Feb. 25.
“It’s kind of like playing our brothers,” Grundy said. “We’re all good friends. It’s just going to be like a pick-up game, just like we always do.”
Norwood 59, Springfield 49: Morgan Rummel and Nick Rushing led the Mavericks back from Thursday’s quarterfinal loss to reach the consolation championship game today.
Rummel scored 19 points and Rushing 17, and Norwood exploded for 22 points in the second quarter to lead 32-19 at halftime.