Bouncing back: Wildcats hope strong seniors, talented underclassmen lead to more wins

Photo by William Woody—Fruita Monument freshman Spencer Fair makes an easy lay-up during practice Tuesday afternoon.


Fruita Monument Boys at a glance

Coach: Dave Fox, 4th year

Last season: 5-16, 1-9 SWL. Didn’t qualify for playoffs.

Returning leading scorer: TJ Pollock, Sr., 4 ppg.

First game: Dec. 3 vs. Bear Creek, at Central, 3:15 p.m.

Coach Dave Fox’s three wishes for FRUITA’S season

• Stay healthy

• The kids play to the best of their ability

• At the end of the season, be able to look at ourselves in the mirror and say we gave it everything we hadA look at the other teams in the Southwestern League


Coach: Tom Dunne (2nd season)

Returning starters: Senior Jordan Gillen, senior Chase Cushing, senior Austin Rochford

Noteworthy: The Demons have the most experience in the league. Senior Matt Elliott was the first guard off the bench last season. Dunne expects junior Gustavo Zavala and sophomores Easton Garcia and Morgan Miller, who played JV last season, to play significant roles.


Coach: Eric White (3rd season)

Returning starter: Kamron Tate

Noteworthy: The Panthers graduated six seniors, so experience may be a factor early. Senior Scheis Anderson and junior Andy Wynes, who are both in the 6-foot-5 range, could both be forces underneath. Sophomores and juniors will fill out the bulk of the roster and play major roles in providing White with depth.


Coach: Troy Youngren (1st season)

Returning starters: Junior Niko Youngren, junior Nathan Robertson

Noteworthy: The Indians have one of the more athletically talented teams in the league. Shad Jensen is the team’s only senior. Junior Brian Davidson has developed an all-around game as he moves up to varsity this season.

If Fruita Monument High School boys basketball coach Dave Fox was to build his perfect team, it would probably look close to this year’s Wildcats.

It’s a scrappy bunch of defensive-minded players with good senior leadership and a talented group of underclassmen.

“Practice has been good and I feel really good about what we have,” Fox said. “The boys have shown up in pretty good shape, and we’re trying to work hard on the things we think are important.”

What’s important to Fox and the Wildcats is bouncing back from last year’s 5-16 record. The Wildcats finished 1-9 in the Southwestern League and lost 11 of their final 12 games.

“Last year we were a non-factor,” Fox said. “We held four or five opponents under 50 points but still lost.”

Although losing graduated senior Alex Mende’s post play and 15 points per game hurts, the Wildcats might be more talented overall this season. Seniors Steve Goff, TJ Pollock and Willie Stevens will lead the way this season. Pollock is a good athlete who’s the top returning scorer (4 points per game).

Along with the seniors will be a versatile group of underclassmen who are coming off a solid junior varsity season. Forward Drew Bridges, point guard Tyler Daniels, guard Tyler Kenagy and post players Tanner Crites and Colter McKenzie will all see significant varsity playing time.

“We have a great group of kids coming up,” Fox said. “They’ve had positive attitudes in practice and everyone is buying in.”

Fruita Monument again has the challenge of a schedule dominated by road games. The Wildcats have only five home games and don’t play at home until Jan. 22. Fruita Monument isn’t taking it easy to begin the year, playing in the Warrior Challenge, the Ralston Valley tournament and the Hinkley tournament.

“You go into this wanting to win the league,” Fox said. “But if the chemistry is better, it will be important for our end goals.”


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