Motivated Gunnison runs past Coal Ridge

PHOTO BY DANIELLE STOMBERG—Jac Lavato of the Gunnison High School Cowboys finds a hole and takes the ball to the basket during Friday afternoon’s game against Coal Ridge High School for the 3A playoffs in Palisade.

PALISADE — The Gunnison High School girls basketball team was motivated Friday and it showed.

The Cowboys stormed out to a 10-0 lead in the first three minutes and never let up Friday in a 52-42 win against Coal Ridge during a semifinal game in the 3A district tournament at Palisade High School.

“That was huge because we came out ready to play,” Gunnison coach Kevin Michelson said.

“They came out and played to win.”

The Cowboys added to the lead and led 17-5 after the first quarter against a Coal Ridge team that defeated Gunnison twice this season. Gunnison senior guard Kaitie Vader led the Cowboys with 15 points and said the team was eager to take on the Titans.

“We couldn’t wait to get out of the vans,” Vader said. “We don’t like Coal Ridge, they beat us twice during the season and knocked us out during last year’s tournament. We were the most motivated for this game we have been all season.”

Vader’s 13 first-half points helped the Cowboys take a 30-17 lead into halftime. Coming out of the half, Michelson said the Cowboys were focused on putting together a strong second half.

“I told them every possession counts,” Michelson said. “Against Coal Ridge, if the ball is in your hands, it is a good thing.”

The Cowboys were able to keep the Titans at bay in the third quarter and pushed their lead to 41-26 heading into the fourth quarter. Coal Ridge made its push, but it wasn’t enough.

The Titans cut the deficit to 19 points at 48-38 with three minutes remaining behind Morgan Jessep’s seven consecutive points.

“Coal Ridge can be real streaky,” Michelson said. “But we hung onto it, and it wasn’t pretty, but we hit some free throws when we needed to.”

Jessep led all scorers with 18 points. Jac Lavato added 13 points for the Cowboys and Lindsay Hart finished with 10.

Basalt 60, Olathe 51

The No. 5-seeded Basalt High School girls basketball team outscored top-seeded Olathe 16-2 in the second quarter en route to a 60-51 win in the Class 3A Western Slope District Tournament.

The Pirates led 16-9 after the first quarter by taking advantage of 14 free-throw attempts compared to zero for the Longhorns. Longhorns coach Carolyn Compton thought her team came out better after the first quarter.

“We just needed more energy, that is what our defense works off and our offense works off,” Compton said. “We were just a little nervous.”

Basalt was led by Melissa Stewart, who scored a game-high 26 points, including 16 in the second half. Compton thinks Stewart has really helped her game lately.

“She’s really had the opportunity to work on her inside-out game and it has really payed off, Compton said.”

Olathe was led by Briana Vigil and Morgan Stansberry who both scored a team-high 10 points.

Basalt plays Gunnison at 4 p.m. for the championship and Olathe plays Coal Ridge for third place at 12:30 p.m. 


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