Delta High School swept, what could be, the final Delta County basketball tournament known as the First Colorado National Bank Basketball Tournament.
Delta County's varsity basketball teams have taken part in the tournament format dating back to 1994 when teams gathered to play in the Bank of the West Basketball Tournament. Teams battled for bragging rights within Delta County from 1994 through 2013 under the Bank of the West's sponsorship. A two-year absence featured a tournament without any bank sponsorship and featured teams outside Delta County. No records were kept during that two-year span.
In 2016, First Colorado National Bank took over the sponsorship for a new era of Delta County basketball tournament action. From 2014 through 2018, records were kept and added to the existing list of winners and tournament MVP's. Originally, the tournaments were scheduled for the last week in December prior to Christmas Break for schools in Delta County. This past year the games were moved from the last week prior to Christmas Break to Jan. 10-11, 2020.
Though competition has been seemingly one-sided with Delta High School's athletic programs residing in either Class 4A or 3A while Cedaredge, Hotchkiss and Paonia high schools participated in lower classifications, the upper classification hasn't always held the upper hand. Cedaredge and Delta have been members of the 3A WSL (basketball) for the past few years with Hotchkiss and Paonia participating in 2A or 1A classifications for their sports programs. Every school within Delta County (both girls and boys) have earned titles in one, or both, of the two separate era of sponsorships. With this year's tournament included, Delta County teams have played against each other 23 times in tournaments sponsored by local banks. Delta's boys, with this year's victory, claimed its 16th title. Cedaredge and Paonia's boys each have won the tournament three times and Hotchkiss has two tournament titles. On the girl's side, Delta's win in this year's title game, pulled the Panthers even with Cedaredge High School with each school earning seven victories. Paonia's Eagles are next with six wins and Hotchkiss has three.
First round games - Girls - Hotchkiss 37, Paonia 35
Tournament action on Jan. 10, began in the girl's bracket and featured Hotchkiss High School and Paonia High School. Both teams were tentative in the beginning and miscues and fouls slowing the game down at times. There were 43 fouls whistled in the game with neither team taking advantage to make a clear cut difference in the game's outcome. Hotchkiss was whistled for 23 fouls with Paonia shooting just 37% from the free throw line. Paonia committed 20 fouls with Hotchkiss making eight of 20 shots at the charity stripe for 40%. The Eagles held on for a 10-7 edge after one period of action and led 20-19 at the half following a 12-point second quarter from the Bulldogs.
Hotchkiss outscored the Eagles 13-9 in the third quarter and escaped with a 37-35 win after Paonia missed several opportunities from the free throw line late in the game.
Hotchkiss sophomore Arianna VenJohn paced the Bulldogs' offense with nine points and seniors Elsie Vazquez and Shay Glaser added eight points each. Freshman Payton Fister and junior Taneal Mautz shared scoring honors for the Eagles with nine points each.
Girls - Delta 35, Cedaredge 26
The second girls game on Jan. 10, was between Delta and Cedaredge high schools. Both teams were sluggish coming off Christmas break and the scoring wasn't quite up to par for either team. Delta managed to win the turnover-filled first quarter, 7-4, with junior Keely Porter's three points leading the way. Both teams had plenty of hustle and defense was a factor in causing turnovers for both squads. Porter had a three-point goal and three free throws in the second quarter to propel the Panthers to a 20-11 lead at halftime.
An ugly offensive effort in the third quarter produced just 10 points between the two teams. Cedaredge junior Sophie Andrews scored four of the Bruins' six points in the period to cut Delta's lead to seven, 24-17.
Porter's seven counters in the fourth quarter lifted Delta to a nine-point victory in the opening round of the First Colorado National Bank Basketball Tournament. Porter finished the game with 18 points to lead all scorers in the game. Senior Sara Geddes played in her second game of the season and scored eight points for the Panthers. Cedaredge senior Makayla Kehmeier and Andrews shared scoring honors for the Bruins with eight points each.
The win sent Delta to the finals on Jan. 11, where they faced the Hotchkiss Bulldogs. Cedaredge and Paonia played in the consolation game.
Girls consolation finals - Cedaredge 40, Paonia 8
Cedaredge wasted little time in establishing its pressure defense and literally ran away with the game in a 40-8 decision. The Bruins held a 13-0 lead after one period and were leading 18-0 at halftime. Paonia scored two field goals and a free throw to get on the scoreboard but still trailed, 29-5 heading to the final stanza. The Eagles scored three free throws in the fourth quarter in a 40-8 loss.
Cedaredge junior Kammie Henderson scored 12 points to lead all scorers in the game. Henderson had four points in the second quarter and six in the third to highlight her offensive night.
The Bruins are in Aspen on Friday, Jan. 17, for a game against the 1-3 Skiers. Games are scheduled for 4 (JV), 5:30 (girls varsity) and 7 p.m. (boys varsity). Cedaredge will host Olathe on Tuesday, Jan. 21, for games 3, 4:30, 6 and 7:30 p.m.
Girls finals - Delta 67, Hotchkiss 42
Delta found itself trailing 14-13 against Hotchkiss after one quarter of this year's First Colorado National Bank Basketball Tournament. The Bulldogs were aggressive and accurate as they built a 9-2 lead early in the period. Vazquez scored five of the Bulldogs 14 points in the opening eight minutes of play.
Second quarter play was dominated by key players from each team. Glaser dumped in eight of her Hotchkiss' 16 points while Geddes and Porter scored seven points each for the Panthers in a 22-point effort that gave Delta a 35-30 lead at halftime.
Delta's defense shifted gears in the second half and limited the Bulldogs to just five free throws in the third quarter in a 20-1 run. A big offensive effort from Geddes in the same time span produced 10 of the Panthers' 20 points in the third quarter.
Glaser's nine points in the fourth quarter left her with 21 points in a losing effort for the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs shot 17 free throws in the fourth quarter alone with four shots finding their way through the net. In all, Hotchkiss shot 44 free throws and made 15 (34%) on 32 fouls by Delta players. Delta made 13 of its 33 free throws after the Bulldogs were whistled for 26 fouls. Geddes was the game's leading scorer with 23 points while Porter finished with 15 points and junior Alexa Huff gave the Panthers a third player in double figures in scoring with her 10 points.
Geddes' weekend produced 31 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and six steals earning her the tournament's First Colorado National Bank MVP award for 2020.
The Panthers entered play this week with a 5-3 overall record with their only game scheduled for Friday, Jan. 17, in Carbondale against Roaring Fork (7-4). Preliminary games are set for 4 p.m. (girls JV) and 5:30 p.m. (girls varsity). Next week's schedule has Delta playing in Montrose (Tuesday, Jan. 21) against the Indians at 6 p.m. (girls varsity). Hotchkiss (6-1) played at Caprock Academy on Tuesday, Jan. 14, and will have a road trip to West Grand (Jan. 17) and Hayden (Jan. 18). Games at West Grand are scheduled for 4 p.m. (girls JV) and 5:30 p.m (girls varsity). Paonia's Eagles also played on Monday, Jan. 14, and are scheduled for the Hayden and West Grand road trip Jan. 17 and 18. Hayden's games on Friday are scheduled for 3 (girls JV) and 6 p.m (girls varsity). Against West Grand on Saturday games are set for 1 p.m. (girls JV) and 2:30 p.m. (varsity girls).
First round games - Boys - Hotchkiss 59, Paonia 51
Last Friday's opening round game in the First Colorado National Bank Basketball Tournament was between longtime rivals Hotchkiss and Paonia high schools. The Bulldogs from Hotchkiss entered the game with a 2-3 overall record and Paonia's Eagles were 3-2. A first quarter standoff saw the Bulldogs come away with a two-point lead after one quarter, 15-13. Hotchkiss hit four 3-pointers in the second quarter and scored six more points than the Eagles to take a 31-23 halftime lead.
A slow third quarter held a slight advantage for Paonia as the Eagles shaved three points off Hotchkiss' lead leaving the Bulldogs with a 38-33 lead with one quarter left to play.
Both teams upped their offensive efforts in the fourth quarter with Hotchkiss netting 21 points to the Eagles' 18 providing an exciting finish to the game. The Bulldogs shot 13 free throws in the fourth quarter and made seven to keep Paonia at arm's distance in the 59-51 decision. Hotchkiss senior Zac Ziemer scored six of his game-high 13 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Bulldogs offense. Senior Evan Mattison chipped in nine points for the winners. Paonia junior Braden Lewis also scored six points in the fourth quarter and finished with 10 points to share scoring honors for the Eagles with senior teammates Kyle Long and Justin Holt. Senior Jai Petmezas finished with nine counters for Paonia.
Hotchkiss, with the win, moved on to play in the title game on Saturday while Paonia filled a berth in the consolation finals.
Boys - Delta 58, Cedaredge 26
Game two in the boys division of last week's First Colorado National Bank Basketball Tournament was a scrap between Delta's Panthers and the Cedaredge Bruins. Delta raced to a 19-6 first quarter lead behind the all around play of senior Nate Workman. The speedy athlete scored nine points on a number of steals and layups. Workman finished the game with eight rebounds and eight steals to go with his game-high 19 points.
Workman wasn't alone in the dominating performance turned in by Delta's face-paced defense and offense. Junior Colbi Braslin contributed six points in the first quarter and senior Hunter Hughes was good for four points in the first quarter run. Braslin also finished the game with eight rebounds with Hughes hauling down two rebounds, dishing out one assist and making five steals along with 10 points.
Senior Javi Medina was also a double-digit scorer for the Panthers who scored seven points in the second quarter of a 17-7 Delta run to give the Panthers a 36-13 halftime lead. Hughes added six points in the second quarter with Delta's pressure defense supplying turnovers for scoring opportunities. Medina and senior Felipe Bedoy had four assists each in the game and Bedoy helped control the game with seven rebounds.
Delta's offense slowed down in the second half with players rotating in and out of the game. The Panthers had 11 points in each of the remaining two quarters with Cedaredge scorers adding another 13 points to its halftime score.
Sophomore Kyler Parker and junior Jacob Brown tallied five points each for the Bruins and senior Damon Hudson had four. Junior Alex Barron had five blocks to keep Delta shooters wary of venturing too deep into the paint.
Delta advanced to the finals for a shot at its third straight FCNB tournament title and Cedaredge claimed the second berth in Saturday's consolation finals against Paonia.
Boys consolation finals - Paonia 45, Cedaredge 29
After falling behind 14-8, Paonia's Eagles took control of the game in a second-quarter 12-4 run sparked by senior Kyle Long. Long came off the bench to score five points (5-6 from the free throw line). Cedaredge junior Alex Barron had six points in the first quarter but was unable to string together more than a single basket in the remaining three quarters and finished the game as the Bruins' leading scorer with 12 points.
Paonia's middle two quarters generated 27 points to build a 35-25 lead with one quarter left to play. Long scored five points in the final quarter in a 10-4 Eagles' run and finished the game with nine of 12 free throws and four field goals for 17 points to lead all scorers in the game.
Paonia (4-3) played Vail Mountain on Tuesday, Jan. 14, and will be in Hayden on Friday, Jan. 17, for games at 4:30 (boys JV) and 7:30 p.m. (boys varsity), and at West Grand on Saturday for a JV boys game at 1 p.m. with the varsity game tipping off at 4 p.m.
Boys Finals - Delta 81, Hotchkiss 49
Delta's Panthers won its third straight First Colorado National Bank tournament title with an 81-49 victory over Hotchkiss High School. Hotchkiss senior Jacob Palecki played an all-around solid game for the Bulldogs but didn't have enough offensive help in an 81-49 loss to the Panthers on Saturday, Jan. 11. Palecki scored 17 points in the loss with senior Hunter Bryant's eight points the next highest number for a Bulldogs' scorer. Bryant knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter and finished with a single field goal in the fourth quarter.
Hotchkiss kept up with Delta's fast paced offense in the first quarter and trailed by only three, 18-15, at quarter's end. Braslin's eight points in the first quarter sparked the Panthers with solid play in the paint. Medina caught fire for the Panthers in the second quarter and funneled 12 points through the net on six of eight free throws and a pair of 3-pointers. The flourish of points from Medina helped Delta score 26 points to blow the game open and take a 44-29 halftime lead. Hughes' seven points added fuel to the big Delta run.
The Panthers kept their pressure on Hotchkiss at both ends of the court in the second half resulting in a 37-20 scoring advantage for Delta. Palecki's seven points in the fourth quarter kept interesting in a 16-13 final quarter surge by both teams.
Medina's sharpshooting antics in the game resulted in five 3-pointers and a game-high 25 points for Delta. Hughes was next high for the Panthers with 18 points followed by Workman's 16 and Braslin's 12.
For his overall performance in this year's FCNB Tournament, Workman was selected as the 2020 MVP in the boy's division.
Delta's boys will have a normal week of basketball with two games on its schedule. The Panthers (3-5) are in Carbondale on Friday, Jan. 17, for a 7 p.m. tipoff against Roaring Fork's Rams (1-10) and are at home on Saturday against Basalt's Longhorns (1-6) with varsity action beginning at 5:30 p.m.