Turnovers doom Central in loss to Cherokee Trail

Thirty-four turnovers would be enough to leave any basketball coach with a serious head-scratcher.

But not Todd Dixon.

Nope, the Central High School girls basketball coach is a true player’s coach, which was evident in the Warriors’ 60-22 loss to Cherokee Trail on the second night of the Wildcat Invitational at Fruita Monument.

The Warriors, who picked up their first win of the season Thursday night, seemed out of sync from the opening tip, leading to an eye-popping 34 turnovers, which led to 32 of Cherokee Trail’s 60 points. But keep in mind this Central team, unlike the team two years ago that was one of the state’s best, is very young and inexperienced, which forces a tremendous amount of patience and positivity from Dixon.

“We made a decision early in the year to go very young,” Dixon said. “We’ve got some very young talented players out there that don’t know the game just yet and that’s why we as coaches are out there coaching constantly no matter what the score is. Playing a long preseason will hopefully be beneficial by the time we get to league play. Hopefully by then, we will be a little more seasoned and understand what we are supposed to be doing.”

With a team loaded with underclassmen — Taylor Hice and Brittany Hoppe are the lone seniors — the Warriors’ inexperience was showcased Friday night as the players struggled with Cherokee Trail’s half-court defense, which led to problems setting up an offense.

Before the Warriors knew it, they were down 13-0, forcing Dixon to take a timeout to settle his team down. The Warriors’ first bucket came at the 2:27 mark of the first quarter on a jumper in the lane from Hice.

“(Cherokee Trail) is a little more seasoned with juniors and seniors and their whole philosophy is to cause chaos and they did that well,” Dixon said. “We talk about not only triple threat, but also quadruple threat and actually looking before you do anything. It takes a calm mind to do that and the only way they are going to get there is a little more playing time and understand how to handle such pressure.”

Midway through the second quarter, the Warriors cut the lead to 19-7 off a Hoppe free throw, but Cherokee Trail closed the half with a 13-5 run to take a commanding 32-12 halftime lead.

The second half was more of the same struggles for the Warriors as they managed just 10 points while Cherokee Trail scored 28, 14 of which came off turnovers.

Hoppe led the Warriors with seven points and Hice added four. Cherokee Trail’s Brook Sanders, who drilled five three-pointers, led all scorers with 19 points.

Fruita Monument 57, Cheyenne South 34: It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Fruita’s defense finally kicked in.

The Wildcats surrendered only two points in the fourth quarter after letting Cheyenne South hang around.

“We put pressure on them and they started to throw the ball away,” Fruita Monument coach Dan Schmalz said. “That’s the way we should have been playing the whole game.”

Lauren LaBonde led the Wildcats (3-0) with 17 and knocked down three of the team’s six 3-pointers. Kassidy Fair added a season-high 14 points and Eden Laase 11.

“We had a chance to put them away early and let them hang around,” Schmalz said. “We have to work on putting away teams that shouldn’t be playing with us. But you have to hand it to (Cheyenne), they did play hard.”

Fruita found itself in foul trouble throughout the game. Cheyenne South (0-5) went 16 of 27 from the free-throw line, with leading scorer Stephanie Dickinson scoring 13 of her 17 points from the line.


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