Guettler’s late-game heroics lift Coal Ridge
PARACHUTE — A fast start for the Coal Ridge High School boys basketball team almost turned into a frantic finish in the Grand Valley Cardinals’ favor on Wednesday. Tyler Guettler made sure that didn’t happen.
The Coal Ridge senior scored a game-high 15 points, and his steal and layup with 1 minute, 14 seconds left to play halted Grand Valley’s comeback bid in the Titans’ 47-42 victory in the first round of the Class 3A Western Slope League District Tournament at Grand Valley High School.
“We know that they have some really great shooters, so we had to make sure toward the end we got our hands in their faces,” Guettler said. “That really worked to our advantage down the stretch.”
And at the beginning. Coal Ridge (9-11), the third seed from the WSL’s North Division, limited Grand Valley (12-8) to 1-of-10 shooting in the first quarter and 16 for 47 (34 percent) for the game. That helped the Titans race to an 11-2 lead in the first six minutes, which turned out to be too much for the Cardinals.
The win vaulted the Titans into the tournament semifinals against Aspen, a 60-56 winner against Gunnison, at 8:15 p.m. on Friday at Palisade High School. Coal Ridge has won five of its past six game after starting the season 1-7.
“We had a rough preseason, which is my fault,” Coal Ridge coach Paul Harvey said. “I wanted to play all the tough teams that came out of the 4A Slope league. But we’ve come together as a group since then, and now we’re saving the best for last.”
McCade Cox added 10 points and Robby Wilson pulled down 11 rebounds for Coal Ridge against the Cardinals, who moved into the tournament’s consolation bracket and host Gunnison at 6 p.m. today in a loser-out game. The winner of that game will play for the district’s final state tournament berth.
Grand Valley, which got 12 points from Eddie Pena and 11 from Trevor Smith, recovered in the second quarter after Coal Ridge built a 13-3 lead in the first 8 minutes. A layup from Smith with 2:02 left before halftime sparked an 11-3 Grand Valley run to bring the Cardinals within 27-23 at the break.
The Cardinals pulled within 32-31 on a pair of free throws from Tyler Scott with 2:11 remaining in the third and hung in throughout the second half. It was 44-40 after a putback from Chris McGruder with 1:30 left in the game. Grand Valley forced a turnover on the Titans’ next possession, but quick transition defense forced an errant pass by the Cardinals.
That errant pass went right into the hands of Guettler, who went end-to-end for a layup to give Coal Ridge six-point edge with 1:14 left. Grand Valley turned it over on its next possession, was eventually forced to foul and watched as Guettler sealed it by hitting 1 of 2 free throws with 19.9 seconds left.
Rifle 54, Olathe 52: Jake Statler hit a game-winning jumper with two seconds left at Olathe as Rifle (9-12) advanced to the semifinals to play Roaring Fork on Friday at Palisade High School.
Taylor Carlson had a team-high 29 points for Olathe (13-7).
“Jake took an inbounds full court, through the press, and got himself a good look,” Rifle coach Chis Lowther said.
Roaring Fork 69, Hotchkiss 43: Trae Moxley and Dakotah Grett combined for 37 points as Roaring Fork (14-6) advanced to play Rifle in Friday’s semifinals at Palisade.
Mitch McCallister led Hotchkiss (9-10) with 14 points.