‘Cats go ice cold
Shots don't fall in Fruita's loss to Boulder
The free throw off the fingertips of Fruita Monument’s Lauren LaBonde twirled around the lip of the rim, and just as it seemed gravity would favor Fruita, the ball hopped out, and a chorus of Wildcats fans let out a collective “ahh.”
And that’s how it went for Fruita.
The shots Wednesday sometimes were as open as LaBonde’s free throw for Fruita Monument in its 53-34 loss to Boulder in the first round of the Class 5A girls state playoffs against Boulder.
No. 10 Boulder (9-15) advances to play No. 2 Doherty (21-2) in Saturday’s second round.
For No. 7 Fruita (14-10), the season is over.
LaBonde, a junior, led Fruita with 15 points. Jessica Sinner had 12 points in her final game.
“It was one of my best seasons,” Sinner said. “I’m going to miss all my teammates, all my coaches. This is a tough loss.”
Both teams, in fact, were shooting somewhat cold until Boulder’s Lena Jaycox put up a jumper in the fourth quarter, this time from just beyond the 3-point arc.
After taking a jab step dribble, Jaycox snapped a fall-away 3-pointer, with her usual above-the-forehead release that hit all twine.
Boulder led 40-30 after the 3-pointer with 3:30 remaining.
Jaycox had three 3-pointers and zero turnovers.
But the Panthers had more help than Jaycox, their leading scorer.
Sophomore Vivi Gregorich had a team-high 18 points, including two 3-pointers.
“That was probably our best team offensive performance,” Boulder coach Chris Mischke said. “Girls were attacking who normally do a lot of watching. Usually it’s all Jaycox, and if she doesn’t go off, we’re in trouble.”
With LaBonde in her face, Jaycox did not exactly “go off.”
But her fourth-quarter 3-pointer perhaps meant more than just three points. It was a brief athletic stunt, a high, arcing missile that left fans silent, as though in awe.
“She’s just so gifted athletically,” Mischke said.
Boulder led 35-30 early in the fourth quarter before Jaycox drew a foul on LaBonde and hit a pair off free throws.
That’s when she hit the fall-away 3.
Fruita did not recover in the final minutes as Boulder’s Mariah Alexander cleaned up a missed shot for two points and Gregorich made three of four free throws after being fouled.
“I thought we were flat from the beginning,” Fruita coach Dan Schmalz said. “I thought Boulder was as well. We had a higher seed. I thought we’d play a bit better but that didn’t happen.”
When asked what from the season she’ll remember for the rest of her life, Sinner said she’ll recall her teammates, of course, and a 3-pointer at Grand Junction she made from about five feet beyond the 3-point arc.
But she won’t remember it just because she made it.
“I had no idea I was that far out,” Sinner said. “I thought, ‘Uh, oh — air ball.’ “
Palisade fell 66-28 at Evergreen in the first round of the Class 4A state girls basketball tournament.
Jenna Brown led No. 12 Palisade (7-16) with seven points.
Erin Dobey had a team-high 15 points for No. 5 Evergreen (15-8), which plays No. 4 Falcon (13-10) on Friday in the second round.