Free throws lift Bulldogs past Cardinals
It will be a battle of the top two seeds in the boys basketball Class 3A Western Slope District championship today.
Moffat County crashed the offensive glass and hit 30 free throws to blitz Grand Valley 80-67 on Friday night at Palisade High School.
Moffat County (17-4), the second seed, will play No. 1-seeded Aspen (18-3) today at 5:45 p.m.
The Bulldogs took a 19-12 lead after the first quarter by getting plenty of second-chance points.
The game turned into a rout in the third quarter when Moffat County big man Javen Gumber keyed a 9-0 run to push the lead to 48-30.
Gumber, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, hit two buckets off offensive rebounds, then made a nice pass to Kort Hathhorn for another basket.
Grand Valley’s high-scoring junior Sam Parker, along with senior Santos Cornejo, keyed a strong fourth quarter to keep the Cardinals (13-8) close.
Parker hit a 3-pointer to get the Cardinals back to within 10 at 54-44 going into the final quarter.
Cornejo, who had six of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, hit two baskets and two free throws by Parker cut the lead to 70-61 with 1:25 remaining.
But like it had been all game long, Moffat County was deadly from the free-throw line, hitting 10 straight down the stretch to seal the victory.
Moffat County finished 30 of 40 from the line.
Grand Valley shot 23 of 26 from the line, including 12 for 12 from Parker, who finished with a game-high 26 points.
Taft Cleverly, Moffat County’s lone senior, led four Bulldogs in double figures with 15 points.
Tanner Magee added 12 for the Cardinals.
Moffat County and Aspen were clearly the class of the 3A WSL this season.
The teams split their two games in the regular season. Tip-off for tonight’s championship game is at 5:45.
“We have to take care of the ball and make every position count and play defense against their bigs,” Moffat County coach Eric Hamilton said about keys to beating the No. 1-seeded Skiers.
Grand Valley plays Coal Ridge in the third-place game at 2:15 today.