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Sky-Hi News sports correspondent
The West Grand High School basketball teams both played district play-in games on Tuesday night and learned whether their seasons would continue into the district tournament this weekend in Kremmling.
The boys hosted Vail Mountain while the girls had to make the long trek to Rangely to face the Lady Panthers. The boys lost to Meeker in a thrilling game on Saturday night but still finished with the third seed when Paonia lost both its games during the weekend. Vail Mountain moved up a notch when it upset SoRoCo on Saturday night.
The girls are the eighth seed in the tournament. The top two teams in the league earned first round byes and Rangely earned the third seed after league play was completed.
In wrestling action at the state tournament, West Grand’s Daniel Terwilliger was defeated in his two matches. The sophomore earned valuable experience, however, at what is arguably the top single event in Colorado high-school athletics.
The Lady Mustangs play three games last week, traveling to Vail Christian on Tuesday night and then hosting North Park on Friday night and Meeker on Saturday. The game against the Wildcats presented the best opportunity for a victory for the Lady Mustangs. Despite a slow start in which North Park grabbed a first quarter lead of 10 points, West Grand slowly crawled back into the game and took the lead near the end of the third quarter.
The Wildcats were able to regain the lead at the end of the third quarter, but West Grand took a three-point lead with a little less than three minutes to play. North Park prevailed, however, to win by a slim margin. The Mustangs were sparked by the excellent freethrow shooting of Chyenne Sims, who hit nine of her 10 attempts.
The game also gave the home crowd a chance to show their appreciation to the five seniors who are nearing the end of their high school careers. The girls, who have been four-year players for West Grand are Sims, Howell, Shea O’Hotto, Kira Stone and Kayla Tanton.
In the Meeker game, the Mustangs started strong and had the game tied about midway through the first quarter. The Cowboys showed their mettle, however, and steadily pulled away. Hannah Howell led the team with 10 points while Anna Cunico, Laura Billington, Sims and Kaitlyn Adams all had two points.
The West Grand boys basketball team celebrated Senior Night against North Park with a resounding 67-33 victory. It was the penultimate regular season game for Kris Gregory, Zach Ahrens, Coleman Springer and Travis Gore. Those four scored a total of 28 points, including a career-high six points from Gregory. Ahrens scored 10 points, Gore tallied nine points and Coleman added three points to the victory. Sophomore Nick Ritschard led the team in scoring with 14 points.
The Mustangs led at each break and outscored the Wildcats in each quarter. That included a 22-9 advantage in the fourth quarter. Ahrens led the team in rebounds with nine while Colton Bodemann and Springer each grabbed seven caroms. Ritschard led the team in steals with eight while he and Gregory led the team in assists with two apiece.
The Saturday night contest with Meeker was an excellent preamble to the postseason. Meeker came into the game with a 17-1 record and a perfect record in league play. The Cowboys had sewn up the top seed in the tournament and the first-round bye. West Grand knew it would be hosting the play-in game and assumed it would be SoRoCo, a plan that was altered when Vail Mountain pulled off the upset in Oak Creek.
Most of the fans at the game would have described the atmosphere at the game as being a “playoff” atmosphere. It was the kind of game where every possession mattered, every mistake was magnified and every point was treasured.
The two teams battled back and forth throughout the contest, with the outcome in doubt until the final moments, when Meeker pulled away to the 66-56 victory. The Meeker head coach would later describe the competition as the toughest his team has faced in the league this season.
Gore, as he has done most of the season, led the team in scoring with 22 points and in rebounds with 10. He also had two steals and three assists to share the team lead in those statistics. Ritschard also had an overall complete game with 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and one steal. Hunter Gasvoda scored eight points for the Mustangs and Ahrens grabbed five rebounds.
On Tuesday night, in addition to Vail Mountain traveling to West Grand, SoRoCo played in Hayden, and Paonia traveled to Rangely. The winners of those three games will be matched with Meeker in Kremmling this weekend at the Western Slope district tournament. They will be joined by the top four girls team in the league in what promises to be a weekend of high-quality basketball in Kremmling.
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The West Grand girls cruised to victory 52-32 against Lake County on Tuesday in Kremmling.