Second to none
Big 2nd quarter lifts Tigers past Columbine at Wildcat
For the Grand Junction High School girls basketball team, the balance wobbles between serious moments, and those of humor — sometimes quirky, sometimes cute.
Like the rest of their season, the Tigers wore both moods in their 60-33 win over Columbine on Saturday at the Fruita Monument High School Wildcat Invitational.
Grand Junction (7-0) and Chaparral (4-0) were the only teams to win all three of their tournament games.
But first, the serious moments for the Tigers. Columbine cut Grand Junction’s early second-quarter lead to 16-12. So Tigers guard Sydni Brandon promptly sank a 3-pointer, followed by Kylie Burns stealing a pass and finishing with a layup.
“Once a big play happens,” said Brandon, who finished with 16 points and two 3-pointers, “everybody’s level gets brought up, and they play harder.”
The consistent jump shot also happened for the Tigers the first time this season, Tigers coach Sam Provenza said. In the first quarter, it was Brandon and Elisha Jahnke hitting deep jump shots on consecutive possessions.
“Drives off the skip pass, the ball reversal for jump shots,” Provenza said. “This is the first time that’s happened.”
Then there were the moments Provenza and the Tigers’ assistant coaches would sometimes exchange glances with a smile, or joke with their players. Like in the second quarter when Burns was alone on a fast break. She picked up her dribble, took two steps, and then ...
“I was too far away from the basket,” Burns said.
She had to put up the shot. Close enough for a touch shot, but too far for a layup, she sent a floating shot on the left side of the basket with her right hand.
Most importantly, it went in and gave the Tigers a 29-12 lead with 2:38 remaining in the second quarter.
“Everyone made fun of me, but at least the basket counted,” Burns said with a smile. “I do a lot of weird stuff.”
Call it harmless teasing from teammates and coaches. Provenza said his players know when they make mistakes. So, why yell?
“We always tell them to turn down the volume,” Provenza said, “and listen to the noise.”
Grand Junction outscored Columbine 24-8 in the second quarter. Burns had eight of her 10 points for the game in the quarter.
Jahnke finished with seven points for the Tigers.
Erika Meister, who missed last season with a torn ACL, was inserted into the starting line and had six points. Bri Baldwin, nursing an injured right wrist, did not play.
“(Meister) is trying to catch up right now,” Provenza said.
Until then, Provenza will continue to laugh a little and teach a lot.
“With young kids you have to temper the anger with the humor,” Provenza said. “Because you pound on the kids, and they tighten up. So, you have to pull them back a bit.”
Chaparral too much for ‘cats
Chaparral, ranked No. 6 in Class 5A, had 17 points from Kendall Heitmeier as the Wolverines defeated Fruita Monument 78-48.
Lauren LaBonde scored 10 of her 13 points in the fourth quarter to pace the Wildcats. Sam Parks added 12 points for Fruita (4-2).
Fruita coach Richard Atkins said Chaparral was simply too strong.
“We’ll be prepared for other teams in our league,” Atkins said. “We don’t see this type of competition like this everyday here.”
What does he mean? One example: As time in the third quarter wound down, Katie Longwell, who finished with 12 points, crossed her dribble over, then pulled up from about five feet behind the 3-point line. She hit the 3 and gave the Wolverines a 65-32 lead.
LaBonde did her best in the final quarter, including hitting a 3-pointer while being fouled. Although she missed the ensuing free throw, the 3 pulled the Wildcats to within 74-45.
“Lauren came in and gave us some offense,” Atkins said. “But we need to get offense from more than one person.”
Air Academy routs Central
Six-foot center Kassady Huffman had 16 points as Air Academy defeated Central 58-22.
Taryn Smith led the Warriors with 11 points.
Central (2-4) was coming off a 44-36 win over Fountain-Fort Carson in Friday’s late game.
“They learned how to step right back on the floor after a big night,” Central coach Mary Doane said. “(Friday) night was a big night for them. We learned how to play on back-to-back nights.”
Carbon County nets win
Shelby Cornforth had 20 points and Giovanna Chiara had 17 points to lead Carbon County, Utah, to a 47-41 win over Fountain-Fort Carson.
Amber Perryman led Fountain-Fort Carson with 13 points.