Overland’s heroics halt Grand Junction’s season

Overcome with emotion,  Aaron Marshall Overland High School clings to his mother immediately following his team’s com-from-behind win over Grand Junction High School. With the score tied at 68-68, Marshall drilled a three-point shot with 2.5 seconds left to go in the game for the win.

One shot. Two seconds. Three points.

That was the difference Saturday night between jubilation of victory and the heartbreak of defeat as Overland’s Aaron Marshall threw up a 3-pointer falling out of bounds with 2.5 seconds left to send the Trailblazers into the Sweet 16 and hand Grand Junction a 71-68 home loss.

“I knew it was going in,” Grand Junction coach Dutch Johnson said. “We defended it well, we didn’t allow them to penetrate and that kid made a tough shot. What more could we have done on that last possession?”

Overland’s coach Ron Garcia Y Ortiz was situated right behind Marshall as the 6-foot-1 junior launched the shot with the Tigers’ Everett Robinson putting a hand into Marshall’s face.

“Honestly when it left his hand it looked good,” Garcia Y Ortiz said. “He is a playmaker and he wants the ball in his hands.”

Marshall’s desire for the ball was the difference in a fourth quarter when the Trailblazers outscored Grand Junction 24-10. Marshall scored 13 of his 23 points in the final quarter as Overland overcame an 11-point deficit.

“They had fate on their side,” Grand Junction’s Geoff Baldwin said. “It was on us, we had our chances down the stretch.”

The Tigers tried to keep Overland down but with every punch Grand Junction threw, the Trailblazers responded. After Overland cut the lead to 63-60 with four minutes remaining,
Baldwin sank two free throws and Everett Robinson’s drive to the basket capped by a reverse layup gave Grand Junction a 67-60 lead with 2:30 left.

Marshall answered right back with a 3-pointer. The Trailblazers continued to keep defensive pressure on Grand Junction and it resulted in turnovers as Overland scored four points to take a 68-67 lead. Baldwin tied the game at 68-68 with 55 seconds left before the Trailblazers held for the last shot and Marshall came through. The Trailblazers face Fairview in the Sweet 16.

“We went away from what worked,” Johnson said. “They were over-pressuring us all game and we were shooting lay-ups. Late in the game, we were taking wide open threes, but we wanted to shoot layups.”

Despite losing in devastating fashion, Grand Junction played one of its best games all season.

The Tigers went bucket-for-bucket in the first half and held a 42-40 lead at halftime. Robinson had 18 points in the first half and finished with a game-high 27.

“Robinson is a special player,” Garcia Y Ortiz said. “I’ve seen the best in the state and he’s there.”

Baldwin sat for a majority of the first half but scored six straight points in the second half. He finished with 18 points and helped hold Overland to seven points in the third quarter. Garcia Y Ortiz said the Trailblazers prepared for two days on slowing Baldwin.

“He is unguardable at times,” Garcia Y Ortiz said. “We worked on taking away his right shoulder and he still got shots.”

Baldwin played his last basketball game and now moves on to his No. 1 sport, baseball. But for the 6-foot-5 senior, the experience of playing under Johnson was special.

“I can’t say enough about coach Johnson,” Baldwin said. “By far the best coach I have ever had, and our relationship with him was unbelievable.”

As for Robinson, the Tigers’ senior started the season slow but wowed a lot of coaches, players and fans by the end. Johnson said he was proud of the way the seniors battled.

“Matt Wilkinson played a great first half and Geoff and Everett have carried us all year,” Johnson said. “It’s a hard way to go out, but they all showed up.”

In 4A playoff action, Pueblo West defeated Montezuma-Cortez 54-46, Golden defeated Moffat County 69-56 and Glenwood Springs defeated Montrose 71-53.


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