Fruita can’t sustain run game in loss

Fruita’s Chance Muller, right,  and Alex Mende fight for a loose ball with Jeremiah Sirles of Bear Creek.

Fruita Monument’s quickness could not keep up with the size and intensity of Bear Creek
in Thursday’s opening round of the Warrior Challenge boys basketball tournament.

The Wildcats fell 65-51.

After trailing by eight in the first quarter, the Wildcats ran their way back into the game, pushing Bear Creek up and down the floor, cutting the lead to five at halftime.

Senior point guard Mike Perry had an off game shooting, but still managed to quarterback the running game and get his team back in the game with smart decision-making and solid defense.

Perry finished with seven points.

“We needed to run,” coach Dave Fox said. “When we were running, we were right in the ballgame.”

The third quarter was a completely different story, as the Wildcats came out flat. Bear Creek capitalized on turnovers and Fruita’s inability to knock down a shot. The tempo slowed down, and so did the Wildcats’ comeback.

“I was really disappointed the way we came out in the third quarter,” Fox said. Fox added he did not know why, but the Wildcats seemed to play scared.

Bear Creek outscored the Wildcats 16-11 in a sloppy third quarter and 19-15 in the final quarter to seal the game.

Alex Mende scored a team-high 16 points and Chance Muller and Scott Miller added 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Miller had the tall task of keeping Bear Creek’s bulky, 6-foot-8 center Jeremiah Sirles off the glass. Miller held the Sirles quiet in the first half, thanks to the fast-paced offense and foul trouble, and limited Sirles to 11 points in the game.

Perry said he wasn’t worried about his scoring, and knows his role is to set up other guys to score.

“I’m really OK with that role,” Perry said. “I ask my friends to keep track of my assists, not my points. That’s what I’m looking for, assists.”

Bear Creek’s Tommy Flanagan led the Bears with 12 points. Dujuan Mack added nine points.

The opening game was disappointing for the Wildcats, but Fox knows his team is going to get better.

“You make the biggest improvement from the first game to the second game,” Fox said.

“Hopefully we’ll do that this weekend.”


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