Seniors take the lead

Halftime speech from Kiel, Rose sparks GJ in 2nd half

Grand Junction’s Kyler Rose scored four points Saturday in Grand Junction’s 71-44 victory, but it was what the senior said to his teammates in the locker room that made the difference for the Tigers.

The men stood before the players at halftime. Not enough energy, they said. Have to play with more energy.

The men were Grand Junction High School senior leaders Zach Kiel and Kyler Rose. Head basketball coach Dutch Johnson gave up the locker room Saturday at home against Montezuma-Cortez.

“I really thought Zach and Kyler were really the two kids that played the hardest in the first half,” Johnson said. “That’s what senior leadership is. I told them the locker room was theirs at halftime. And maybe it needs to be theirs more often.”

At the second half’s opening horn, Grand Junction guard Greg Eccher collapsed to the low post to double team and caused the first of three consecutive turnovers that led to fast-break layups, and the Tigers closed its first back-to-back homestand of the season with a 71-44 Southwestern League win.

Ten players scored for Grand Junction (12-3, 4-0 SWL). D.J. Wells led the Tigers with 14 points. Broderick Robinson added 13 points. Also for Grand Junction, Kiel had six points, and Rose had four.

“I’m like a lead-by-example kind of guy,” Rose said. “Not like the rah-rah, in-your-face guy in the locker room. It was different.”

Yet Rose said he was comfortable.

“I’ve got five brothers and sisters at home,” he said. “Ain’t no big deal.”

With the win, Grand Junction held onto its lead in the SWL.

Cortez (3-10, 0-4) was led by Brack Whiteskunk’s 19 points and two 3-pointers.

Grand Junction led 27-16 at halftime, but it put the game away in part by hitting five of its eight 3-point attempts in the second half.

The Tigers were able to insert many of their bench players such as Trenton Soriano, who responded with six points on two 3-pointers.

“We scored 27 in the first half and 27 in the third quarter — big difference,” Robinson said. “(Johnson) just sent two people in, Kyler and Zach, and said, ‘Go take care of it now. I don’t want to see this again.’ They came in and chewed us out.”

Johnson said he once heard: “The big game is the big game after the big game.” The Tigers on Friday night won a big game over Durango, 57-38, as Robinson threw down two emotion-drenched dunks. Less than 24 hours later, they played the real big game after the big game against Cortez.

“The energy in the gym wasn’t the same,” Johnson said, “so pretty much it was on those 12 kids to get up and have the same energy for this game.”


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