The Hotchkiss basketball team ended the week in third place in 2A Western Slope League standings following two conference wins and a 56-55 conference loss to Vail Christian.
"We had an opportunity but we didn't finish some easy ones," said head coach Kyle Crowder of the Feb. 4 game against the No. 1-ranked Saints.
"We have nobody to blame but ourselves."
And Parker Poage, the 6-foot, 6-inch post scored a game-high 26 points for the Saints and held Bulldog post Chris Allen to two points in the final period.
The Saints trailed by seven at halftime, but came out with a solid man-to-man defense in the third period to hold Hotchkiss to 12 and tie the game at 46-46 heading into the final period.
With 4:40 remaining, Poage hit one of his three treys for the period to boost the Saints' lead to nine.
With 2:16 remaining, point guard River Panish sank a 3-point goal from the top of the arc to bring Hotchkiss to within five points.
Allen scored in the paint on an assist from Wes Hardin, and point guard Andrew Tiedeman took an inbounds pass in for two with 1:13 to go to put the score at 56-55.
With 25 seconds remaining, Poage went to the free-throw line and missed, and Panish pulled in the rebound. With less than five seconds remaining, Allen got the ball in the paint but Poage was there to meet him and Allen's final shot rimmed out at the buzzer, giving the Saints the win.
Vail Christian (11-4, 4-2), ranked fifth in state in Class 1A by Colorado Preps, was bumped to fifth place in the league with losses last week to Meeker and Rangely.
With two easy games on the horizon the pressure was off and the Bulldogs had time to assess what's working and what isn't, said Crowder.
Allen scored 20 and Panish 16 in the Bulldogs' 79-33 win Friday at De Beque.
On Saturday, first-year sophomore guard Cesar Gonzalez came off the bench to score a game-high 16 points in the Bulldogs' 71-22 home win over Plateau Valley. Big leads allowed the Bulldogs to play their entire bench in preparation for the final games ahead of the district tournament.
Three of the top four teams in the league remain on the schedule. Paonia and Meeker are undefeated in league play and Rangely and Hotchkiss are at 6-1. Hotchkiss had wins over Meeker and Rangely in early-season play. But Meeker, which debuted in the Colorado Preps top 10 rankings this week, could be the team to watch after topping the Saints by 10 last week, said Crowder.
"We're excited for the opportunity," said Crowder. If they can win the final three games — against teams they defeated earlier in the season — they will have the home-court advantage heading into districts.
Hotchkiss hosts Meeker at 7:30 p.m. Friday, and travels to Rangely Saturday.
On Feb. 18, Hotchkiss will face the Eagles for the third time this season at Paonia.
"The kids understand the magnitude of what's coming," said Crowder. "We've seen them, we know what we have to do."blog comments powered by Disqus