By Wayne Crick
The 2020 girls and boys state basketball championships were suspended before champions could be crowned in either division in Class 3A competition. There were plenty of honors for Delta County basketball teams when all-conference accolades were announced following conclusion of the basketball season. Players from Cedaredge, Delta, Hotchkiss and Paonia had at least one athlete on lists honoring players for outstanding accomplishments in the 2019-20 season.
Cedaredge High School had five girls, and one boy, selected to this year’s 3A Western Slope League all-conference teams. For head girls coach, Russell Coleman, the Bruins landed three players on the First Team; junior Kammie Henderson, senior Makayla Kehmeier and sophomore Megan Gastineau. Honorable mention selections included juniors Sophie Andrews and Kimmy Milholland. Coleman was honored for his work guiding the Bruins to a 19-5 overall season and an 8-1 league record with a Co-Coach of the Year award in the 3A WSL. Coleman has been the head girls coach the past two season and has piled up a 37-11 overall record and a 15-3 league mark. Cedaredge’s girls were in the state playoffs the last two seasons with wins advancing them to the Sweet 16 both years where they were eliminated.
Cedaredge boys coach Craig Cerise had a busy season at Cedaredge High School as he worked through a subpar season where his Bruins finished the season with a 1-8 WSL record and 4-16 overall. Cedaredge missed the playoffs this season and hope to be in the mix next season as they drop back into the 2A classification. The Bruins’ had one player on this year’s all-conference team with senior Owen Craig being selected to the honorable mention team.
Delta High School was in the thick of things in the girls race in 2019-20 with the Panthers winning both the 3A WSL and district titles for the second straight year. Kyle Crowder’s team finished the league season with a perfect 9-0 record and ended the year in a loss in the Great 8 of Class 3A ‘s state playoffs for the second year in a row. Selections to the 3A WSL all-conference team included the entire starting five for the Panthers; senior Sara Geddes and Haylin McCulloch, juniors Keely Porter and Alexa Huff and sophomore Erika Kuta. An additional honor was bestowed upon Geddes as she was selected by coaches in the league as the Player of the Year. Crowder earned another prestigious award for the Panthers as he joined Cedaredge’s Coleman as a Co-Coach of the Year honor for the WSL. Crowder has been at the helm for the girls program at DHS for the past four years and has amassed an overall record of 73-23 with a league mark of 30-6. The past two seasons have been the most prolific with the Panthers going 44-6 and 18-0.
Though the boys had less than their lofty record from last year (20-5) Delta’s Panthers played with intensity and aggressiveness with several close losses in a 9-10 3A WSL season and a 10-12 overall record. Delta missed the playoffs in 2020 with injuries changing a potential playoff run. This year’s team, coached by Rob Ames, had three players selected to the 3A all-conference First Team including seniors Hunter Hughes, Nate Workman and Javi Medina.
Hotchkiss High School had four players from the girls hoops team and one boy from the boys team honored as selections to this year’s WSL all-conference teams. Head girls coach Haillie Taylor announced seniors Shay Glaser and Elsie Vazquez were chosen for the First Team while sophomores Indigo Miller-Barnes and Vianney Mendoza were honorable mention selections. Taylor’s Bulldogs had an outstanding season finishing with a 19-5 overall record and 9-2 in the 1A/2A WSL. Hotchkiss won its opening round game in regional play but fell to Limon in the regional championship to end its season.
Coach Eric Hollembeak had his Hotchkiss Bulldogs playing well at times in the boys season but a loss in district playoffs ended Hotchkiss’ season with a 7-13 overall record and 4-8 in the 1A/2A WSL. Senior Jacob Palecki was Hotchkiss’ lone selection to the First Team in 2020.
Paonia’s misfortune with the absence of head coach Scott Rienks early in the season did not take the fight out of the Eagles with interim coach John Blair taking the reins to guide Paonia to a 10-13 season overall and 5-6 in the 1A/2A WSL. Rienks, who was hospitalized for the past nine weeks, entrusted Blair with his team as he continued his fight against cancer. Blair, Brian Mitchem and Ce’rra Carsten combined efforts to use the knowledge of Rienks, and their own, to keep the Eagles positive and headed in the right direction. Paonia had one player, junior Tawny Roberts, who made the 1A/2A all-conference team as an honorable mention selection. For his dedication to the girls, coach Rienks, and the community of Paonia, Blair was selected the Coach of the Year for the 1A/2A WSL.
Head Paonia boys coach Tim Esgar led the Eagles to a respectable 11-11 overall season and 7-5 in the 1A/2A WSL. Paonia was eliminated for post season play in district competition to end its 2019-20 season. The Eagles landed three players on this year’s 1A/2A all-conference team with senior Logan Green earning First Team honors with senior Landon Thliveris and junior Dom Felice being selected to the honorable mention team.