Fast start lifts Fruita boys to big win over Cortez

Maybe changing how they warm up is working.

Three nights after outscoring Olathe 30-7 in the first quarter, the Fruita Monument High School boys basketball team got off to another jackrabbit start Friday. The Wildcats claimed a 23-7 lead after the first frame and rolled to a 60-32 victory over Montezuma-Cortez.

“We got out of the gate pretty well,” Fruita Monument coach Billy Dreher said. “We didn’t shoot it as well from the outside as we had been, and our free-throw shooting was awful. ... I thought the starting group kind of got us going, made that run.”

Dreher said the team switched a few things in its warmup routine, and Wildcats senior Spencer Fair said he thinks it has helped. Fruita Monument (7-7, 1-0 Southwestern League) is focusing more on defensive drills in during pregame.

“We’ve really been working on how to get that quick start,” said Fair, who led all scorers with 15 points, including six in the first quarter. “We’ve been practicing running the floor, driving, dishing ... more up-tempo.”

The Wildcats led 8-2 only one minute, 42 seconds into the game, and after the Panthers closed the gap to 14-7 on Alex Lopez’s long 3-pointer, Fruita scored the final nine points of the frame. The highlights of that run were a turnaround jumper in the lane by Matt Story and a fast-break layup by Devin Winstanley.

The Wildcats made only two 3-pointers after dropping in seven of them in the win over Olathe, but they did more than enough damage near the basket with layups and easy shots underneath.

Fruita Monument also did the job on defense, leading Dreher to say he was “real pleased” with the defensive effort. In particular, the Wildcats held scoreless the Panthers’ leading scorer, Brack Whiteskunk, who fouled out with three minutes, 17 seconds left in the third quarter.

Dreher used the blowout victory to rest his starters a bit in the second half and give his reserves more playing time, hoping that will help his team with the quick turnaround of playing another league game today. Fruita Monument hosts Durango at 1:30 p.m.

“I was pleased with most everything,” Dreher said of Friday night’s game. “If we can shoot the ball a little better — maybe we saved it for (today) — we’ll take it.”


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