Kremmling: West Grand boys lose two on the road to Plateau Valley, Paonia
Sky-Hi Daily News
A weekend road trip to western Colorado resulted in a pair of losses for the West Grand Mustang boys basketball team.
The Mustangs battled Plateau Valley to the wire on Friday night before succumbing 54-49. Paonia used its superior size advantage on Saturday to hand West Grand a 74-59 loss.
Coach Leo Pesch received near double-digit scoring from four players against the Cowboys of Plateau Valley. Cory Davis and Marshall Kraker scored 12 points apiece while Connor Widener and Rory Menhennett added nine points each.
Plateau Valley built a 37-23 lead at the end of the first half and appeared to have a clear advantage. However, the Mustangs came out of the locker room and outscored the Cowboys 15-6 in the third quarter to come within five points.
In the third frame, Menhennett converted on two three-pointers and freshman Widener added another three-pointer from the corner. Senior post player Marshall Kraker scored six from the paint as West Grand pulled back into the game.
Late in the fourth quarter, Davis caught fire with three three-pointers of his own,, and West Grand pulled to within three points with just under two minutes to play.
Coach Leo Pesch said his team was poised to tie the game on three straight possessions but just couldn’t create a good look at the basket. Plateau Valley helped the cause by shooting some ill-advised shots as the game clock wore down.
However, the Cowboys were able to hang on, primarily behind the play of DJ Schuman, who scored 22 points in the game and six down the stretch in the final frame.
Paonia is an anomaly in Class 2A basketball, with several players in the 6 foot, 4 inch to 6 foot, 6 inch range. And these are not “program-height” players, the products of an overzealous coaching staff. They are at their listed height, likely in their stocking feet.
In addition to being tall, they shoot well from the three-point arc. They used that combination to build a 60-25 lead after three quarters of play.
The Mustangs used some torrid shooting in the fourth quarter to outscore the host Eagles, 34-14, to make the final score more respectable.
“I was very proud of the way we finished the game,” coach Leo Pesch said. “We worked hard to the final horn, and that says a lot about these kids.”
Mackenzie Widener scored 13 points in the final frame to finish with a game-high 17 points for the Mustangs. Davis and Kraker finished with 15 and 14 points respectively.
Brad Todd led the Eagles in scoring with 19 points, while Danny Straub scored 14 points and Brennan Blair finished with 10 points.
JV wins in OT
In junior varsity action, the Mustangs won a thrilling overtime contest on Friday night against the Plateau Valley Cowboys, 62-58.
Coached by Ryan Eastin, West Grand’s junior varsity squad received double-digit scoring from Ryan Smith (15), Sky Handyside, (12), Fletcher Flanigan (11), Drew Klotz (10) and Matt Johnson (10).
In addition, coach Eastin employed a box and one defense in the second half to slow down Austin Apache, who scored 19 points in the first half. Johnson and Flanigan were assigned the task of shadowing Apache in the second half, and the Mustangs combined to hold him to two points during the final 16 minutes of play.
As of press time, it appeared the Mustangs would be traveling to Rangely on Saturday for the first round of district play. Earlier this season, the Mustangs lost to the Panthers, 64-44, in a home contest.
Coach Pesch said he believes his team is dedicated to working hard this week to try and duplicate last year’s performance, when the Mustangs traveled to Paonia and upset the second-ranked Eagles.
West Grand finished the regular season with an overall record of 8-10 and a record of 2-6 in league play.
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The Mustangs cross country team trudged through a muddy 5K Saturday morning during the West Grand Invitational, a race that slowed times but sent the fun factor through the roof for many of its competitors.