Times Staff Writer
GHS Boys Basketball — Three … two … one.
As the clock hit zero in the Gunnison High School (GHS) gymnasium this past Saturday, fans erupted. The Cowboys had just taken down No. 3 Coal Ridge by a score of 70-65 — snapping the Titans’ 18-game Western Slope League (WSL) winning streak.
Coal Ridge’s last loss in the WSL came on Dec. 23, 2016 against Moffat County — where they were defeated 62-60.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the guys,” said GHS head coach Matt Smith. “They put in a lot of effort and energy. It hasn’t been easy to get to where we are as a program, but the struggle was worth it in the end to get where we are right now.”
GHS players celebrated in the locker room by blasting music, while smiling from ear to ear. It took everything they had to pull off this upset.
After trailing 36-27 at halftime, the Cowboys’ offense got going — scoring more than 20 points in each of the final two quarters. Aidan Hulbert and Hunter Wood dominated the third quarter, scoring 18 of the team’s 21 points in the stanza.
Hulbert got things going early in the period, knocking down his third three-pointer of the game, which cut Coal Ridge’s lead to 36-30.
The Titans responded with a three of their own, extending their lead to nine points — before Caleb Hulbert answered with a basket of his own, cutting the lead to seven points.
Minutes later, Wood caught fire — draining two three-pointers and making one of two free throws. The momentum sent Cowboys fans to their feet, cheering on the home team.
However, Coal Ridge wasn’t going down that easy. The Titans went on a 7-1 run, which extended their lead to 49-40. Yet, as the third period was coming to a close, Aidan Hulbert and Wood made their presence known once again.
Hulbert hit a clutch three-pointer and contributed two more points on a jumper, bringing GHS within five points of tying the game. Wood closed out the third quarter in dramatic fashion, hitting a three-pointer with time expiring.
The Cowboys’ momentum carried over into the fourth quarter. Pascual Lerma was fouled and subsequently made a free throw — giving the Cowboys a 51-50 lead.
GHS scored four more points before Coal Ridge called a timeout with 5:21 left to play. Coming out of the timeout, the Cowboys led 55-52.
However, the Titans’ timeout didn’t appear to help. GHS went on a 7-3 run, resulting in the Cowboys taking a 62-55 lead. GHS held the advantage for the remainder of the quarter.
Down the stretch, Caleb Hulbert closed things out for GHS, recording four points and making a clutch free throw with 28.3 seconds left to play.
With the win, the Cowboys are now 8-2 on the season. Their last loss came on Nov. 30 against University.
“It feels amazing to be 8-2” said Caleb Hulbert. “We’re so blessed to be able to go out there and play for one another. But we still have tons of work to do. This is just the beginning for us.”
While the season is far from over, this year’s GHS boys basketball team already has a place in the history books. The 2018-19 Cowboys are the first team in program history to go on an eight-game win streak.
“The beauty of it is that we are not finished. We have a great opportunity to use this win as a springboard for the rest of the season,” said coach Smith. “I think that these guys are mature and composed enough to know that this is a sign of great things we have to do for the remaining 10 games of the season.”
Prior to defeating Coal Ridge on Saturday, GHS defeated Moffat County 53-45 on Friday. Wood led the way for the Cowboys, scoring 13 points, while Aidan Hulbert and Braden Wood pitched in with 12 and 11 points, respectively, of their own.
The Cowboys will be back on the court tomorrow, Jan. 18. They travel to Aspen to take on the Skiers at 7 p.m. Following the conclusion of that game, GHS will be back on the road Saturday, facing Basalt High School in Basalt at 2 p.m.
GHS VS. MOFFAT COUNTY HIGHLIGHTS (JAN. 11)
> Cowboys raced out to an early 7-0 lead, thanks to AIdan Hulbert’s four points and a Braden Wood three-pointer.
> Bulldogs went on an 11-1 run — taking an 11-8 lead — before GHS rallied to end the first quarter on top, 15-11.
> Moffat County responded in the second quarter, outscoring the Cowboys 13-7.
> GHS went on an 11-1 run to start the third quarter.
> Scrappy play by Pascual Lerma led to multiple second-chance points for Cowboys.
> Bulldogs regained the lead with 1:05 left in the third quarter, as GHS called a timeout down 34-33.
> Two costly fouls by Moffat County in the final 2.5 seconds of the third led to Cowboys taking a 38-34 lead.
> GHS held onto the lead for the entire fourth quarter, defeating the Bulldogs 53-45.
(Brandon Warr can be reached at 970.641.1414 or email@example.com.)