Unlikely hero: Whaley’s clutch basket helps Central top Glenwood
When the Central High School boys basketball team needs a crucial basket, sophomore Connor Whaley isn’t usually the first choice.
Entering Tuesday night’s make-up game against Glenwood Springs, Whaley was averaging 1.5 points in two games played. But with senior Vandon Sanchez fouled out, Whaley found himself in the game with the Warriors trailing 52-50 in the fourth quarter. With under five seconds left, Whaley drove the baseline and made a tough reverse lay-up with one second left to tie the game at 52-52.
“I knew I didn’t have much time, I just had to get to the hole,” Whaley said. “It was unexplainable. It felt great.”
Inspired by Whaley’s last-second heroics, the Warriors (5-4) cruised in overtime to secure a 65-59 win.
“We had some great sophomore play at the end,” Central coach Phil Cain said. “For a guy like that to hit the big shot is awesome.”
Central needed a big surge late in the fourth quarter to even set up Whaley’s play. The Warriors fell into an offensive slump in the third quarter, scoring only six points. Glenwood took a 41-38 lead at the end of the third, and extended the lead to 50-42 with three minutes remaining.
“I challenged them to keep playing hard,” Cain said. “We got into our full-court, man-to-man press and got some turnovers.” The Warriors’ comeback was led by sophomore point guard Taylor Sanchez, who scored nine of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter. Josh Wells also came up big down the stretch, putting back a Sanchez miss with 45 seconds left that cut the Demons’ lead to 52-50.
“We always preach to those guys you never know when it will be your time,” Cain said. “We had all sorts of different players stepping up to make plays.”
Glenwood was led by Kevin Flohr, who scored 21 points.
montrose 78, palisade 76
A poor four-minute stretch in the third quarter was costly for the Bulldogs.
Palisade (3-4) outscored Montrose in every quarter — except for the third, where the Indians turned a seven-point deficit into a seven-point lead. Montrose kept the Bulldogs far enough away by getting to the free-throw line a total of 32 times in the game.
“We played harder than we thought we could,” Palisade coach Steve Phillips said. “We got after them.”
The Bulldogs had four players in double-figures, led by Nate Yanez’s 18 points. Montrose was led by Nathan Robertson, who had a game-high 26 points.
Central opened up an 11-0 lead in the first quarter and didn’t let Glenwood Springs get much closer, winning 67-41.
“Our goal wasn’t to worry about the score,” Central coach Todd Dixon said. “We wanted to find ourselves offensively and we did that.”
After a more than three-week break, both teams struggled at times offensively. Central (7-1) found its rhythm by pressuring Glenwood into turnovers, which led to easy points.
Amy Kame had a solid all-around game, finishing with 29 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and eight steals. Stacey Kinnett added 12 points.
“It’s hard coming off such a long break,” Dixon said. “We were tense at times, but we worked it out.”
The Warriors will next be tested in the Regis Invitational. Central begins the tournament Thursday with a rematch against ThunderRidge.
“Our goal is to win it,” Dixon said. “We are no longer going in with the mind-set of we just want to compete. We won the Heritage Tournament and we are feeling pretty good about ourselves.”
Montrose 41, Palisade 27
The Bulldogs (0-8) trailed by three through three quarters, but ran out of gas in the fourth. The Indians outscored Palisade 13-2 in the final quarter to hold onto the win.
“We were able to frustrate them at times, which was exciting,” Palisade coach Toni Gunther said.
Palisade was led by Nicole Routhier, who had seven points.