Demons hoops teams open tough to begin league stretch

Glenwood Springs sophomore Blake Nieslanik goes up for a shot between a pair of Summit defenders, Andrew Duxbury, left, and Hector Diaz, right, during the Demons’ 54-40 Class 4A Western Slope League opener Tuesday night at GSHS.
John Stroud/Post Independent

When Summit got hot in the 4A Western Slope League boys basketball opener at Glenwood Springs High School’s Spencer-Chavez Gymnasium Tuesday night, Demons senior Mitchell Burt got hotter, leading his team to a 54-40 win.

Glenwood opened up a 10-point lead early in the second quarter, only to see the Tigers come roaring back with a flurry of 3-pointers to close out the half down just one to the host Demons, 23-22.

The Tigers grabbed a brief lead to open the third quarter, 24-23, but Burt was having none of that. Better yet, his teammates smelled the kill.

“My team got me the shots, I just put ‘em down,” Burt said of his 15-point solo run, all from beyond the 3-point line, over the course of the next 7 minutes.

By the end of the third, Glenwood held a 20-point lead and was well on its way to the statement win, improving to 8-3 overall and, most importantly, getting off to a 1-0 league start.

“We have a lot of seniors this year, and all throughout the league seniors moved on last year, so there’s a big opening,” Burt said. “Whoever comes out strongest first, that’s who has the best chance to come out on top.”

Demons coach Fred Heisel said the team has been working on coming out of the locker room into the third quarter with more intensity.

“The third quarter’s been a slow quarter for us all year long. We talked about it in practice last night, and again at half time today,” Heisel said. “Summit came out and played really tough defense, taking a lot of chances out on the wings and denying our passing lanes.

“We talked about exploiting that, and after Mitchell hit that first open shot the other guys on the team saw him heating up and decided to run the offense in a way that provided those open shots.”

By game’s end, Burt led all scorers with 20 points, including the five 3-pointers. Fellow senior John Iuele had 18 and senior Patrick Young added 11. Summit (4-6, 1-1) was led in scoring by Cameron Kalaf and Nazarie Poliuk, each with 12 points.

Heisel calls the post-holiday stretch the “second season,” which has everything to do with getting to the coveted “third season” — the playoffs.

“We have a team that experienced enough and who have been in these situations enough, that they know this how to attack in these situations,” Heisel said.

GIRLS

Glenwood Springs 51, Summit 32

The Summit Tigers stayed within pouncing distance of the host Demons in the first quarter, as Glenwood built a 15-10 lead. But Glenwood was able to slowly build on that, and was up 33-16 at the half before opening a commanding 20-point lead by late in the third.

“Coming off the game Saturday (a 33-22 win at Grand Junction), we felt like we dusted the rust off” from the holidays, Demons coach Rhonda Moser said.

“It all starts now, though. Conference play is super important for us to be able to play in the post season, and we have to take every game one step at a time,” she said.

The Lady Demons also stand at 8-3 overall and 1-0 in league, headed into another league matchup at Rifle on Friday.

Leading the Demons against Summit was senior Qwynn Massie with 14 points, but every Demon got on the board.

“I loved that it was such a great team basketball game,” Moser said. “Everyone scored, and everyone got some minutes tonight, and I thought we did a good job controlling pace of the game.”

Both Demons teams are at Rifle on Friday, girls at 6 p.m. and boys at 7:30.

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via:: Post Independent