While Durango High School coach Klint Chandler said his girls basketball team wasn't planning any major strategy
changes heading into the postseason, a new practice drill had the Demons' gym drowned in sound Tuesday with the clang
of basketballs against the metal bleachers, forcing concentration on form and ball control.
(The coaches) said if we learn how to rip the ball and be strong with it, it will eliminate some of the turnovers. I
guess now's the time to practice," guard Morgan Gurule said.
Better ball control and mental focus will be at the forefront as eighth-seeded Durango, 12-10 overall, takes on
visiting and ninth-seeded Loveland High School at 6 tonight in the first round of the Colorado High School Activities
Association Class 5A Girls State Basketball Tournament.
The game is part of the Carol Callan Region, which also contains the Southwestern League's Grand Junction Central,seeded No. 2 in the region.
Since DHS had little time to scout its opponent from the Denver-area Front Range League, Chandler said the Demons must
focus on fine-tuning their own game. Severe mental lapses during the second season are usually signs of a team that's
going home early. Chandler said he hopes to avoid such stumbling blocks.
Like I said before, I thought our intensity and our mental focus dropped there at the end," he said. Hopefully, we
got that back, and we're ready to come back in here and see what happens in the postseason."
Both teams hit serious ruts down the stretch. Durango lost four of its final five games, and Loveland comes to town
losers of four in a row, and with an overall record of 10-13.
Gurule said the season-ending loss to rival Montezuma-Cortez stung a bit, but added that the Demons appear to have put
the loss behind them.
We talked about it, and I think everybody's ready to win and come out with an intensity we haven't had the past few
games," she said.
One of the few things DHS does know about Loveland is the team's three-point shooting prowess. Leading scorer Shelby
Jones and company have no problem filling it up for the Indians, and shutting down that facet is key for the Durango
Obviously we have to stop the shot. If you shut that down, they don't have much else to rely on," Gurule said.
While scouting reports and practice time have been scarce, the Demons are able to fall back on the fact that they don't
have to climb on a bus and ride eight hours or so to open the playoffs.
I was glad when it came out that we did get this home game," Chandler said. The girls seemed to be excited for this,so we'll see what happens."
Gurule said she won't miss opening the playoffs with a bus ride across Colorado.
Oh my gosh, it's so nice," she said. Usually when we get here, it's always 'go to the Front Range.'"
However, a long road trip is the reward for the Demons if they prove victorious tonight.
The winner travels to take on top-seeded Chaparral High School on Saturday in the Denver suburb of Parker.
As for tonight, tickets go on sale at the gate beginning at 5 p.m. Tickets cost $6 for adults and $5 for K-12 students
and senior citizens. No passes except CHSAA Courtesy Cards will be accepted.
The Demons' first-year head coach is hoping for a large turnout, especially considering the stakes.
I'm hoping for a big one, a big turnout. That'd be great for us if we could get this place packed like it was against
Cortez," he said.