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It’s Monday afternoon practice at ThunderRidge, and 22nd-year coach Joe Ortiz is getting the Class 5A No. 1 Grizzlies prepared for the final week of Continental League play, and then the playoffs after that.
Ortiz, a 1982 Littleton graduate who played under Hall of Fame coach Ron Vlasin, knows he has another championship opportunity in front of him.
The Grizzlies (20-1, 8-0) have been to six state title games and won two under Ortiz, and ThunderRidge’s seven-man senior class is hungry to add another trophy to the main hallway on Wildcat Reserve Parkway after the prior three seasons ended in a title loss in 2015, a Sweet 16 upset in 2016 and a Final Four defeat last March.
To gear up for a championship run — and to close out the conference title with wins over Ponderosa on Wednesday and then No. 3 Rock Canyon on Friday — Ortiz is putting the emphasis on fine-tuning the Grizzlies’ motion offense and getting leading scorer Kaison Hammonds to attack more “downhill” toward the basket.
“If you watch us play in the motion, it’s a lot of flow,” Ortiz explained. “It’s about teaching guys how to play, understanding the game, spacing and shot selection. But Kaison’s penetration has a lot to do with our flow as a whole.”
ThunderRidge is ranked second in the classification with 69.3 points per game with an offense that works well in both transition and the half-court.
Even though Ortiz said this year might be the fewest plays ThunderRidge has ever run, during Monday’s practice the team worked through its sets on air as their longtime coach barked …read more
Source:: The Denver Post