Age-Old High School Traditions On Display in Demon Gym
RIDGWAY – Neither county rival, the Ouray Trojans nor the Ridgway Demons, is having a particularly good year on the basketball floor. But that doesn’t mean games between the two, both boys and girls games, aren’t fiercely felt and hard fought.
Especially on Homecoming night, where last Saturday Ridgway hosted the upvalley Trojans.
The stands were packed, Ouray faithful on the north end, Ridgway students, parents and a smattering of alumni and alumnae filling the south bleachers. Freshly painted posters festooned the walls, each depicting some mythical scene in which a triumphant green demon makes life miserable for a hapless, orange-and-black denizen of Troy.
Over it all hung Ridgway’s state championship banners: girls’ titles in 1982 (runner-up three times), boys’ champs in 1994 and 95 (runners up in 1996 and 98).
All of those teams were coached by Steve Hill, who is still at the helm of the girls’ squad. And still stalking the sideline – he never sits down – chin thrust forward as if every possession were a matter of life and death.
The team consists of only eight girls this season, all freshmen and sophomores but for the two juniors, Grace Benasutti and Leta McNatt. The five starters did all the scoring Saturday night in a game that grew suddenly tight with just three minutes to go. Ouray’s athletic sophomore Jackie Saunders, dropped in two of her 15 points to bring the Trojans within four at 31-27.
But that was as close as it got, as Ridgway’s Rane Dickerson drained a close-in bucket, added a free-throw, and watched as teammate, freshman Haley Crozier (with 10 points the high scorer for the Demons), sank four straight free-throws in the final seconds to seal the 38-29 home win.
Saunders was high scorer for coach Shawn Carroll’s Trojans, which is also dominated by underclassmen; Ouray suits up only one junior, Natasha Botz.
Then it was time for the boys to take the floor. Ridgway’s rangy, 6’5” center Nathan Hagemeyer set the tone early with three feathery sideline jumpers in the opening minutes, plus a couple of blocked shots, and the Demons never looked back. The biggest problem for Hagemeyer seemed to be a shoelace that kept coming untied. “Double-knot your shoe!” yelled his mom, helpfully, from the stands.
At halftime, with the score 38-22 in Ridgway’s favor, senior starting guard Quinn Strickler took the microphone and introduced the homecoming court. It was a refreshingly low-key affair: the male attendants goofing off (King Corbyn Robinson donned a Spiderman mask at one point) and some of the girls looking decidedly sheepish – unpracticed, at least – in their spike heels. King Robinson and Queen Leah Wesseling accepted their paper crowns with dignity, and attention turned back to roundball.
Hagemeyer continued to get open looks close to the basket, and, with his long wingspan, altered countless Ouray shots at the other end. He finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds in the 62-44 win. King Corbyn contributed 17 points.
Ouray’s perpetual-motion senior Jacob Fedel led the Trojans with 16 points and 8 rebounds. Team scoring leader, junior Clay Zimmerman (13.6 ppg average), added 8 points, and fellow junior Justin Clark contributed 10 points.
The twin wins brought RHS teams to 3-4 records (both boys and girls) in San Juan Basin League play. (The Ouray boys’ and girls’ league records both stand at 2-6.)
But records didn’t seem to matter much once the game clock sounded. There was a big dance to go to, starting at 7:30 p.m.