The Telluride High School basketball teams charge into the San Juan Basin District Tournament this week.
After wrapping up the regular season last weekend, the Telluride girls enter district play as the No. 2 seed in the five-team postseason tournament.
The Telluride boys finished as the No. 3 seed for the district tournament, scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Montezuma-Cortez High School in Cortez.
The Telluride girls (5-6 in league play, 7-12 overall) will take on No. 3 seed Dolores (5-6, 7-12) at 7 p.m. Friday in the tournament semifinals.
No. 1 girls seed Ignacio (11-0, 14-5 overall) will face the winner of Tuesday’s pigtail game between No. 5 Mancos (4-7, 4-15) and No. 4 Ridgway (5-6, 6-10). That game was scheduled to be played in Ridgway. Results were not immediately available before press time Tuesday afternoon.
The Telluride boys (5-6 in league, 7-12 overall) will square off against No. 2 seed Ignacio boys (10-1, 15-3 overall) at 8:30 p.m. Friday in Cortez.
The No. 1 boys seed, Mancos (10-1, 16-3), will play the winner of the play-in game featuring No. 5 Dolores (2-9, 6-13 overall) at No. 4 Ridgway boys (4-7, 7-12). That pigtail game also was scheduled for Tuesday at Ridgway High School.
The top three teams in the boys tournament and the girls tournament qualify for the Class 2A Regionals, set for the following weekend.
With the top three advancing, Saturday’s schedule in Cortez will feature the crucial third-place games, as well as the San Juan Basin District championship games.
“For us, it’s a matter of can we hold it together for four quarters,” said first-year boys head coach Brandon Bredlau. “We need to play four full quarters.”
He said the Miners have had strong quarters and productive portions of games.
But, he said, they have struggled at times to put together complete games on offense and defense.
“We’re starting to play together as a team. We need all five to seven players (contributing),” Bredlau said, adding that the Miners will need to avoid foul trouble in the district playoffs.
The Telluride boys lost both games to Ignacio this season. The Miners fell 67-47 in January at Ignacio. The Bobcats won again 57-40 in Telluride in February.
Depending on the outcome Friday, the Saturday games could be critical, he said. On Saturday, the boys third-place game will be played at 11:30 a.m. at Montezuma-Cortez High School.
The boys championship game is set to tip off at 2:30 p.m., also in Cortez.
“I’m glad the drive is (shorter) to Cortez,” Bredlau said, adding that the team is excited to play in the gymnasium at the new Montezuma-Cortez High School.
“We know that in our league any team can beat any team on any night,” Bredlau said. “We’ll see what we can do.”
The Telluride girls split two games this season against tourney foe Dolores.
The Miners won 39-35 on Jan. 18. The Bears won the girls matchup Feb. 15 in Dolores 46-15.
“We didn’t finish (the season) as strong as we would’ve liked,” said Telluride girls head coach Tim Halliday. “But it worked out pretty well. And we played well earlier in the year.”
He said the biggest advantage of securing the No. 2 seed for the tournament is that the Miners avoided the Tuesday play-in game and a Friday game against the No. 1 seed. That sequence has plagued the Telluride girls in recent years.
“Now, with this weekend, we have two really good chances (to advance),” Halliday said.
He added that the key for Telluride against Dolores on Friday is limiting the Bears to one shot. Halliday stressed solid defense, blocking out and aggressive rebounding in practice this week.
“We want to make it a low-scoring game. We have to stay super disciplined on defense … force them to take the outside shot,” he said.
A week of practice before the tournament game also will be a big help, Halliday said.
“I think everybody is pretty excited about Friday night,” he said.
On Saturday, the girls third-place game is set for 10 a.m.
The girls championship game will follow later at 1 p.m. Saturday.
A victory Friday or Saturday will send the Telluride girls to the Class 2A Regionals.
COED HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP
Telluride’s unique equivalent to the Stanley Cup will be decided Friday night at Hanley Ice Rink in Town Park.
A standing-room-only community crowd is expected for the clash of titans on ice — the 13ers versus Yeasty Meat to determine the Telluride coed hockey championship. Puck drop will be at 8 p.m. for the showdown between the No. 4 Yeasty Meat club and the No. 2 13ers.
Both teams reached the championship game with epic nail-biting victories last weekend in the tournament semifinals.
The 13ers, with a goal in the closing minutes of regulation, edged Oak 2-1.
Yeasty Meat (a spinoff to their sponsor The Butcher and The Baker) played the defending champion Distefano team to a standoff through regulation and overtime, prompting a historic semifinal shootout.
In a marathon that lasted a record 16 shootout rounds, Yeasty Meat ultimately savored a tasty, if exhausting, victory.
Yeasty Meat, in the championship for the second consecutive year, had defeated the Last Dollar 4-3 in an equally enthralling quarterfinal game.
“The final will be fun no matter what happens; fun for the whole community,” 13ers co-captain Joe Davis said. “It should be a packed house.”
Teddy Errico, Yeasty Meat co-captain and Telluride’s legendary Mr. Hockey, agreed.
“For anyone who’s in town — locals, visitors — if they come down to the ice rink at 8 p.m. on Friday, it will be worth their while,” he said.
Davis’ 13ers team, with co-captain DJ Poland, features a veritable social experiment of fathers and sons, couples, married couples, sisters and brothers, longtime hockey pals, and recent hockey friends.
Cody Davis, Joe’s son, is one of the team’s top scorers and the creator of the team name. It came about when the Davises joined forces to add a 13th team to the 12-team league a few years ago.
The hockey teams consist of 13 players, Telluride is surrounded by 13ers (13,000-foot peaks), and Cody Davis was enamored with the No. 13, hence his jersey number. The league since has reverted to 12 teams (from the original four back in 2006). And the 13ers remain.
“Mike Hanna, Robyn Shaw, Dawn Davis, Jess Simon and Cody Davis play forwards, but are all amazing contributors all over the ice,” according to Joe Davis. “DJ Poland and Tyler Campbell have added solid defense while being the coaches, providing insight and direction.”
He added that Laura Deblois and Mo Hanna round out the defensive line and are “incredible contributors to the team.” Hanna is one of the original founders of the league, along with Errico.
The 13ers will be without Dylan Books, who suffered a leg injury after blocking a shot in the first round of the playoffs.
Jerry Delozier stepped up to center to skate with co-captain Joe Davis and Sean Deland, a noted local musician and the team’s leading scorer, Davis said.
“The relationship dynamics of the team are a bit unique,” he said. “Cody is my son. Dawn and Dylan are married and have played hockey for years together. They have a son who also plays high school hockey. Mo and Jerry are a couple. And Mo and Mike are siblings.”
Joe Davis and DJ Poland have worked together for several years and often played against each other before Poland joined the 13ers this season.
With all the family and friend combinations, Davis said the 13ers are like “Thanksgiving on ice.”
Yeasty Meat features a similar array of local hockey talent, friends and colleagues.
“They’re a strong contender every year,” Joe Davis said of the coed hockey runner-up team from last season.
The Yeasty Meat roster includes the aforementioned Errico, along with co-captains Tiff Lyga and Tommy Thacher.
Errico, a longtime hockey player as well as supporter and coach with Telluride’s junior hockey program, is the acknowledged leader of the pack, which includes Andy Shoff, Bill Hoins, Corie Chandler, Elisabeth Gaz, Eric Saunders, Gregg Flinn, JJ Ossola, Josh Phillips, Lisa Schaffer and Melissa Ashley.
The emotional anchor and leading cheerleader of Yeasty Meat is longtime Telluride hockey player Elyse Rothschild, a former team captain who was sidelined this season by an off-ice accident and ankle injury.
In another unique twist, the goalies for the championship were established through a season-long rotation of eight players who defend the respective pipes.
The championship goalies are determined by the seasonal statistics as they take turns playing for the 12 different clubs.
Steve Poland will be the goalie for the 13ers on Friday night. He’s been in the championship game for the past few years as one of the league’s top-ranked goalies.
He’ll be matched against Zach Vaughn, this season’s top-rated goalie, who will line up with Yeasty Meat in the championship game.
The rotation of goalies is an integral part of the Telluride Coed Hockey operating philosophy, which includes an annual player draft designed to create even, balanced teams.
The league also is no-check, no-slap shot hockey for obvious safety reasons.
“It was a league concept I poached from the Crested Butte town league,” said Errico, who developed the basic rules with Mo Hanna and Ryan McGovern, who is with the Telluride Parks and Recreation Department.
McGovern, Kurt Friederich and Ben Marshall now serve as the three coordinators of the hockey program for Telluride Parks and Rec.
They also play on the coed teams in addition to handling the administrative coordination for the league, including the officiating.
“We’ve adjusted the rules (over time),” Errico added, with one overriding principle for Telluride Coed Hockey. “The goal is fun.”
Initially, he said, they struggled to field four teams.
“We were hoping to make it a sustainable league,” he said.
Now, the league and the 12 teams are flourishing with early sign-ups and waiting lists for players.
“The league has really taken off,” Errico said. “It’s blown up. We’ve really tried to make it as even as possible. We wanted to take out the cutthroat competitiveness.”
Consequently, Telluride Coed Hockey has become a social phenomenon.
“We understood how much fun people would have, but I think what surprised me is the social nature of it,” Errico said, adding that players often stay around the rink after their games to watch the other teams and games. Plus, he said, family and friends show up to watch and enjoy the hockey camaraderie.
“It gives everyone positive things to do … from the littlest kids to the oldest adults,” Errico said.