An intensified effort on the defensive side of the ball helped propel Grand Valley High School’s women’s basketball team to a 3A District Championship this past weekend.
That same kind of play could go a long way toward the Cardinals’ hopes of qualifying for the state tournament next week, coach Scott Parker said.
Grand Valley District’s 41-33 title win over top-seeded Delta at Grand Junction on Saturday was a major improvement on what was the team’s last loss on Feb. 11 – a decision 65-53 in favor of this same Panthers team.
The result? Grand Valley (18-4) earned a No. 4 seed and now hosts one of eight regional rounds of this weekend’s state playoffs.
The Cardinals kick off at 5:30 p.m. Friday against No. 29 Buena Vista (11-12). The winner advances to play at 11 a.m. Saturday against No. 13 Ellicott/No. 20 Colorado Academy winner.
The regional winners will go on to next week’s Great Eight, which will be held at the University of Denver’s Hamilton Gym.
“We were able to keep them off the free throw line, which was the biggest difference,” Parker, who is in his second season as Cardinals head coach, said of the win. from Delta.
Strong defense throughout the regular season and in the district tournament culminated in a 6-0 run, and Grand Valley now finds itself in control for a trip to the state tournament.
“We’ve played really well defensively all year, but especially the last two or three weeks,” Parker said. “Offensively, we attack the basket much better than we did in mid-season.”
Parker coached the 2015–16 Grand Valley men’s basketball team, including his son John Parker, to that year’s Great Eight. Now he’s had the opportunity to coach his daughter, junior Abbeyrose Parker, with another state tour on the line.
Abbeyrose Parker is the team’s leading scorer this year, averaging 15.4 points per game. Sophomore Jaycee Pittman is the top rebounder, knocking down 7.4 boards per game.
Grand Valley expects to face an improved team from Buena Vista on Friday night. The teams last met on Dec. 11, a 47-22 victory for the Cardinals.
Ellicott enters regionals at 18-4, and Colorado Academy is 14-6 going into Friday’s round at Parachute.
Coal Ridge looking to bounce back
Western Garfield County will also be represented in the girls’ regional round by No. 15 Coal Ridge, who is on the road Friday and Saturday in Greeley.
The Titans (12-6) open against No. 18 Resurrection Christian (14-8). Tipping is at 7 p.m. on Fridays.
No. 2 University (18-4) hosts and takes on No. 31 Eagle Ridge Academy (14-8) early Friday.
“We’ve got a pretty good seed overall, and I think we should be able to do some good things,” Coal Ridge head coach Clyde Morgan said. “We’ll see which girls step in to play.”
The Titans’ bid for a district title was upended in the quarterfinals last week with a 46-42 loss to North Fork, so the regional bid is a chance for redemption.
It remains to be seen if the Titans will have primary point guard Railey Largent on the field Friday, Morgan said. Largent injured her ankle in practice just before the second-to-last game of the regular season, and the Titans have been without her ever since.
“We’ve talked a lot this week about it being time to move on and see who the next person to take control is,” Morgan said.
Resurrection Christian could prove to be a tough test.
“They have some size and are probably a bit better than their record shows,” Morgan said. “We will have to match their shooters and stop the outside shots.”
Junior Jackie Camunez enters regionals as the Titans’ leading scorer, averaging 14.6 points per game. Senior Clara Carranza is the top rebounder, averaging 6.2 rebounds per game.