The bank is open.
In Saturday afternoon’s District 3A Championship Game at Grand Junction Central High School, Grand Valley sophomore guard Jaycee Pittman conceded a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter to keep her team close to the Delta Panthers at the ‘intermission. That set the stage for backcourt teammates AbbeyRose Parker and Bailey Radel to flex their offensive muscles in the second half, propelling the Cardinals to the unlikely 41-33 upset victory.
Delta, who entered the title match with a sparkling 18-2 record, including an unbeaten 7-0 league mark, beat Grand Valley 65-53 at Parachute just two weeks ago.
It looked a lot like history would repeat itself early in the game, as Delta senior guard Kaelynn Porter hit a few shots from beyond the arc for the Panthers, and 6-foot senior post Erika Kuta got a offensive rebound and put the ball back in the hoop, forcing Grand Valley coach Scott Parker to use an early timeout with his team trailing 9-3.
The Cardinals would end up mustering just three points in the entire first quarter, all by sophomore guard Aryaa Tanner, who had a field goal and a free throw.
As both teams struggled to find rhythm offensively in slow-paced play, things didn’t look much better for the Cardinals in the second period until Parker got a late steal and layup for Grand Valley. and Pittman cashes in his second trey just before the halftime buzzer to reduce the Cardinal’s deficit to a manageable 19-14.
Having struggled to find his touch from 3-point range in the first half, Radel, who is Grand Valley’s second-leading scorer with 13.7 points per game, began to feel his long-range oats after the break .
On a wire from Parker, Radel hit a 3-pointer from the corner in front of the Cardinals bench to tie the game at 19-all.
Kuta, who signed to play college basketball next year at Western Colorado University, responded with a lane score to put Delta back in front. Radel then hit another 3-pointer and Parker drove the lane and turned for a twisting layup to give the Cardinals their biggest lead of the game at 27-23.
In the crucial fourth quarter, Parker put the Cardinals on his back and carried them to the district championship.
Picking up back-to-back steals on Delta’s cross passes, Parker ran the length of the field to score on two layups. Then, on an isolation play after a timeout, the sneaky junior guard drove the midfield lane and went down in a light angled shot to give Grand Valley a 38-33 lead.
Delta had no response offensively, nor for Parker and Radel’s charge in the second half, as the clock struck midnight on their District Championship hopes.
“We had a little run towards the end of the first half and that gave us some momentum and loosened up the girls a bit,” Grand Valley coach Scott Parker said. “We stopped being hesitant and both guards (Parker and Radel) stretched the court and allowed us to hit some shots and get to the basket.”
Only four Cardinal players scored in the afternoon. Parker took the game honors with 18 points. Radel had 11 points, including three 3-pointers. Pittman finished with nine points and Tanner three points.
Grand Valley (18-4) will host the 3A State Regional Playoffs next Friday night and Saturday at Parachute.
Boys Third Place Game: Coal Ridge 53, Moffat County 51
Earlier in the day, the boys from Coal Ridge High School crushed Moffat County in the third-place game, 53-51. Game details and stats were not immediately released on Maxpreps.
Top-seeded Aspen easily won the district championship late Saturday, 59-33 over Delta, and will host a regional playoff next weekend.
Coal Ridge won’t have an automatic bid for the regional round, but has a chance to keep its playoffs alive based on its No. 38 RPI power ranking coming this week. The Colorado High School Activities Association will announce regional pairings on Sunday.
John Stroud, senior reporter and editor of the Post Independent, contributed to this report.