Last-second layup lifts Central past Fruita in OT

It was a desperation play from a team with nothing to lose. The Central High School boys basketball team had already pushed tradition-rich Fruita Monument to overtime.

Preston Grandbouche and Clayton Squier even talked about it before Fruita inbounded the ball with 12 seconds left. Grandbouche would receive the ball, somehow, and Squier would run. It was what the Warriors had done all game.

With three seconds left, Grandbouche picked up a loose ball after Fruita missed a shot, and he fired a lob pass to a streaking Squier, who drained a wide-open layup as the overtime buzzer sounded.

Queue the dogpile celebration.

The senior sixth man, who had been part of the Warriors’ winless 2011–12 campaign, sank the defending league champions 54-52 in Fruita on Friday night.

“Aw, man, words can’t even describe,” Squier said. “I just sprinted my (butt) off and was lucky to get it off. With all the work my teammates and I put in during the offseason, for this moment. And there’s going to be more to come.”

It was a coming out party of sorts for Central coach Ryan Hayden. He had heard from opposing coaches, loss after loss, how they could see his influence changing the culture of a struggling Central basketball program.

Friday night, Hayden said, his team seized the opportunity in front of them.

“Some people might say we got lucky tonight,” Hayden said. “I like to think that luck is just when preparation meets opportunity. We’ve battled so hard, all offseason, all year. We’ve come up on the short end of this stick so many times. To see these kids fight through some foul trouble, to persevere through a game that wasn’t their game, they deserve it.”

Trey Fair had a huge game for the Warriors, notching season-highs in points and rebounds. He finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds on 11 field goals. He scored 12 points in the second quarter and helped Central battle to a four-point lead at halftime.

“The kid just goes hard,” Hayden said. “He’s got a motor like I’ve never seen. When he wants to score, there aren’t a lot of people who can stop him.”

Grandbouche finished with 10 points, which included a 3-pointer and deep 2-pointer in overtime. He added six assists.

Spencer Fair led the Wildcats with 17 points and Donny Thornhill chipped in nine points and went six-for-six from the free-throw line.

It was the third buzzer-beating loss in a row for Fruita.

“These kids are resilient,” Hayden said. “We knew that when we came in here there was going to be a rocking crowd. We’ve just worked hard to prepare them for these moments.”


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