Just a year removed from a 5-16 campaign, the Durango Demons are going back to the playoffs.
The Durango High School girls basketball team beat Palisade 44-29 to finish fifth at the Class 4A Southwestern League/Western Slope League District Championships in Grand Junction, and in the process, the Demons finished 13-9 overall and earned a postseason bid.
Emily McCue had a double-double for Durango – 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Molly Barnes, one day after her game-high 26 points in the consolation semifinals, scored 11 for the Demons.
Shanelle Bogus added eight for DHS, which rallied nicely after Thursday’s first-round loss by 24 to Glenwood Springs to work its way back into the playoff picture.
“They did a great job. We really rallied. ... We had a long talk about what we needed to work on, and we looked at that game a little bit and just saw we didn’t execute things we typically execute in,” Durango head coach Nancy Smith said.
“What I love about the past two games was the entire team was enthusiastic. I felt like what we had last game that was missing was energy.”
The Demons’ postseason performance will be their first since making a run to the Class 5A second round in 2010. The schedule and seedings will be revealed today, and the now-4A Demons likely will open play Tuesday night.
But for now, they will enjoy this accomplishment, making state in the Demons’ first full season under Smith and improving their win total by eight games over the previous season.
Smith inherited the girls basketball team midway through last season.
“They are thrilled,” Smith said. “I am, too, but just to see the look on their faces ... they were dancing and jumping and laughing and excited for this opportunity. Especially for the seniors, this means a whole lot.”