Times Staff Writer
GHS Boys Basketball — It was a spectacular season for the Gunnison High School (GHS) boys basketball team, who accomplished — and most likely shocked the Western Slope League (WSL) in the process — countless feats throughout their breakout year.
From snapping Coal Ridge High School’s 18-game WSL winning streak, to going on a 10-game winning streak of their own and making the district and state tournaments for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
During that season, GHS made it to state and beat Rye High School 61-59 in round one, before losing to Colorado Springs Christian School (CSCS) 55-39 in round two.
The Cowboys have come a long way since last season, where they finished 4-16 overall — 3-6 in the WSL — and failed to make the district tournament. This year’s team finished with a 17-7 mark, 7-2 in league.
“It was awesome to have a winning season my senior year,” said Caleb Hulbert. “I’m very lucky to have been a part of such an amazing squad for my last year. Hopefully these winning seasons become more normal in the future.”
While GHS’ season came to an end on Saturday — falling 73-46 to The Vanguard School — they did beat CSCS 47-40 on Friday in round one of the 3A Colorado High School Activities Association State Tournament.
“Going into this game was a little nerve racking, since we haven’t made it this far during all my time playing basketball at Gunnison High School,” said senior Kelita Baroumbaye. “But after winning that game, it made me realize that we are a way different team this year.”
That was clear from the start against CSCS.
The Cowboys raced out to a 9-0 lead — thanks to Baroumbaye back to back lay-ups, a Caleb Hulbert three pointer and a Hunter Wood breakaway layup — forcing the Lions to call a timeout three minutes in to the game.
CSCS got hot in the second to close the gap behind 11 points from Caleb Stockton, as GHS went into halftime up 25-23.
Hunter Wood had seven points in the quarter, while Aidan Hulbert and Quentin Richter pitched in with a basket of their own.
The Lions came out of halftime ready to go, taking their first lead of the game. However, despite facing an eight point-deficit to a higher ranked team, from a program that is accustomed to being in the playoffs, the Cowboys kept their composure and battled back.
Hunter Wood hit a three pointer just before the period ended, tying the game 37-37.
The junior point guard had all 12 points for GHS in the third quarter.
With the game on the line, the Cowboys’ defense came out ready to go in the fourth quarter — allowing only one CSCS field goal.
Hunter Wood and Caleb Hulbert stepped up offensively as well, draining two big three pointers, which gave GHS the lead.
Aidan Hulbert and Hunter Wood sealed the deal at the free throw line down the stretch, as the Cowboys walked away with the victory.
Hunter Wood led the way in scoring with 26 points, while Caleb Hulbert pitched in with nine points of his own.
Things took a turn for the worse on Saturday, against the fourth-seeded Vanguard, a Colorado Springs charter school.
The Coursers jumped out to a big lead behind their main players — Dominique Clifford and Seth Fuqua — both hitting three pointers in the opening quarter. GHS called a timeout to slow things down.
The Vanguard School extended their lead to as many as 15 in the second quarter, before the Cowboys began to cut into that lead behind a tough “and-one” basket from Pascual Lerma.
A layup from Richter brought GHS within eight points, however the Coursers got hot again to finish the quarter on a 7-0 run.
At halftime, the Cowboys trailed 35-20.
Vanguard continued to dominate in the third quarter, extending their lead. Braden Wood scored four of his 11 points in the third quarter — trying to keep GHS’ hopes alive.
In the fourth quarter the Cowboys didn’t have much left in the tank, as Vanguard’s lead was too much to overcome.
Hunter and Braden Wood led the way for GHS, scoring 13 and 11 points, respectively.
The Cowboys say goodbye to Caleb Hulbert, Baroumbaye, Jayden Archuleta and Hunter Mears, who has played a key role as a manager, all of whom will graduate this spring.
But next year’s team looks to reload with the Wood brothers, Aiden Hulbert, Richter and Lerma all returning with ample varsity and, now, big-game experience.
(Brandon Warr can be reached at 970.641.1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)