The West Grand boys basketball team earned a third-place finish at the district tournament in Paonia this past weekend, which meant the Mustangs were assigned to the regional tournament at Fredrick High School where they will be pitted against Heritage Christian.
In the semifinal game against Meeker, West Grand led after the first quarter, but were unable to sustain that lead, losing to the Cowboys, 68-48. In the consolation game against Paonia, the Mustangs rebounded nicely, defeating the Eagles, 65-58.
In the game scheduled for this Friday night in Frederick, West Grand will be facing another team of Eagles from Heritage Christian. These Eagles own a record of 20-1 and are at or near the top of the rankings in Class 2A. Heritage Christian defeated Resurrection Christian in overtime in its final game of the district tournament to earn a top seed and advance to this Friday night’s game.
The winner of that game will play the winner of the Holyoke (10-12) vs. Sierra Grande (16-5) game to determine which team advances to the state tournament the following weekend.
From the Paonia regional, first place Hayden will be traveling to Grand Junction where they will play Sangre de Cristo in a first round game, Meeker will be in Denver facing Haxtun the first night of the tournament and Paonia travels to Durango, where they play Ignacio to try and continue their dreams of advancing to the state tournament.
In the game with Paonia the Mustangs started strong, leading 16-6 after the first quarter. The Eagles raced back in the second quarter, outscoring West Grand 25-10 and held a five-point advantage at halftime. In the second half, the Mustangs regained a five-point advantage in the third quarter and increased that lead by two points in the final frame.
Casey Gore and Leo Pesch led the team in scoring with 17 points apiece, while Nick Ritschard and Dillon Willson poured in 15 points apiece.
West Grand did a good job on the boards, as they grabbed 35 rebounds, including 15 off of the offensive glass. Ritschard led the way with 11 rebounds, while Pesch had eight boards and Jacob Irwin snared seven from the glass. Ritschard also led the team in steals with five and in assists with three. Willson had three steals and two assists.
Paonia had nearly upset Hayden in the first round on Friday and were playing on their home court. It was not enough, however, to deter the Mustangs, who came back strong after their own disappointing loss to Meeker.
In the semifinal game against the Cowboys o Friday night, Ritschard scored 27 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the team in those categories. The Mustangs held a lead after the first quarter, 18-14, but lost that advantage in the second quarter when the Cowboys outgunned West Grand, 22-8. The Mustangs were never able to overcome that point swing.
Dillon Willson scored eight points for the Mustangs while Jeremiah Elliott and Irwin each chipped in with four points.
To advance to the district tournament, the Mustangs defeated Rangely, 60-48, last Tuesday night in Kremmling. Tied at 38 points apiece after three quarters, West Grand limited Panthers to one field goal in the fourth quarter and a total of nine points while scoring 22 of their own as they pulled away to victory.
Gore led the team in scoring with 19 points while Ritschard added 13 to the total. Javier Castillo and Leo Pesch scored eight points apiece while Willson scored six on two three-pointers. In the rebounding category, Ritschard led the team with 10 boards while Castillo had eight rebounds, Pessch grabbed seven from the glass and Jacob Irwin snared five caroms. Ritschard had six steals and five assists to lead the team in those categories.
The game on Friday night at Frederick High School, is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. The victors of the two semifinal games will advance to the championship game on Saturday afternoon.