Montrose boys, girls always in SWL title mix
There haven’t been many basketball seasons in recent memory where the Montrose High School boys and girls basketball teams aren’t a factor late in the season.
This season is no different as the Southwestern League Championship will be decided this weekend with the Indians in the mix.
The Montrose boys are tied for second place with Grand Junction; both teams are 15-6 overall and 6-2 in the SWL. The Indians had opportunities to be in the driver’s seat, but lost at home to Grand Junction by six points, and Fruita Monument in a 41-40 thriller.
That being said, Montrose is on a four-game winning streak heading into its game Thursday with Central and Friday at Fruita Monument.
According to first year Montrose coach Troy Youngren, what’s made the Indians so successful is their chemistry.
“The kids have played three or four years together, and we’re like a family,” Youngren said. “We get along on and off the court.”
Regardless of what happens this week, the Indians should get a strong seed in the Class 4A playoffs. Last season, the Indians finished 13-9 overall and were the No. 7 seed losing in the second round to Glenwood Springs. This year, Montrose is hoping and expecting a higher seed.
“No matter what happens between Junction and Fruita on Thursday, if we come out and beat Fruita, the seeding committee will see that,” Youngren said. “We know we are going to make the top 48, but we want to do some good things leading us into that week.”
Montrose knows it’s playoff-bound, but to win the SWL, the Indians need a few things to happen. It starts with Montrose winning both of its games this week. After that, the Indians need Fruita to lose to Grand Junction on Thursday, then have the Tigers drop their game Friday against Central. If that happens, Fruita and Montrose would be tied atop the SWL with 8-2 league records. At that point, tiebreakers go into effect and Montrose wins the league title by way of the fifth tiebreaker, which is best winning percentage for the season.
For the Tigers to win the league championship, they would have to win both their games this weekend and have Central defeat Montrose on Thursday and Montrose defeat Fruita Monument on Friday. If that happens, Grand Junction wins the league title in the same fashion Montrose would by having the best overall winning percentage.
Fruita Monument can settle all confusion Thursday by defeating Grand Junction.
“Friday means nothing if we don’t take care of business on Thursday,” Youngren said. “We are focused on Central first.”
On the girls side, the Indians are two games behind leader Central at 6-2 in the SWL and 16-5 overall. The two teams face off on Thursday in Montrose. The last time the two teams played, Central won a physical 42-38 game. If Central wins Thursday then everything is clear cut for the league title, but if Montrose can knock off Central and defeat Fruita Monument on Friday — coinciding with a Central loss to Grand Junction — things get complicated.
If Montrose wins both games and Central loses both games, the key decider would be Fruita Monument and Grand Junction’s game on Thursday. Because of the third tiebreaker that compares the tied teams’ records against the team that finished directly below them, Central gets the league title if Fruita Monument wins and Montrose gets it if Grand Junction wins. Central swept Fruita and Montrose swept Grand Junction.
But despite Montrose still being alive, Indians coach Eric Sanchez said the team isn’t printing league champion shirts just yet.
“With two league losses we are realistic that (Central’s) got it pretty much taken care of,” Sanchez said. “But we know that the next two games could shape out where we are going to be seeded in the tournament so we are going to prepare for both games understanding they are big games.”