Defense lifts Tigers to first win of season

Bench players prove they can play well for Tigers

After opening the season with three losses, the Grand Junction High School girls basketball team needed a confidence-builders.

The Tigers got one Friday.

Grand Junction used defensive pressure and an effective transition game to run past
Palisade 46-24 in the second round of the Wildcat Invitational at Fruita Monument.

With a host of players getting their first taste of varsity ball this season, “We’re not ready to handle the pressure yet,” Tigers guard Liz Heaps said playing a fast-paced game against a quality Class 5A opponent.

Grand Junction may have taken a step in the right direction with the victory over the Bulldogs.

“We’re still fiddling with our half-court zone offense,” Tigers coach Sam Provenza said.

To remedy that, he put his pregame emphasis on the other end of the court.

“We told them we’ve got to turn some defense into offense,” he said.

The Tigers’ press took its toll on Palisade, forcing 33 turnovers and limiting the Bulldogs offense to 10-of-29 shooting.

“We were still flat at the beginning of the game, but the defense did that,” Provenza said of triggering the offense.

The Tigers scored freely in their transition game.

“I think everybody is starting to realize what they do,” Heaps said.

As a result, the Tigers made what Provenza considered quantum leaps in starting to play together.

Guard Fawn Brady scored 10 points, but Provenza substituted liberally and got good production from his bench. Stephanie Drake scored 10 points; Cassidie Mims grabbed five rebounds; Joei Ritter had six steals.

Provenza noted the game showed his reserves that he has confidence in their ability to contribute.

Palisade (0-3) had only nine points through the first three quarters. The Bulldogs finally got their offense in gear in the fourth quarter as they were better able to handle the Tigers’ defensive pressure.

Holly Odneal scored seven of her team-high 10 points in the final quarter.

With the Grand Junction closing out the Wildcat Invitational at 9 a.m. today against ThunderRidge, Heaps said the Tigers wanted to get that first victory under their belt.

“We need that boost of confidence,” she said.


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