Wildcats wrap up 3-0 Warrior weekend

Active hands and strong full-court press carried Fruita Monument to a 55-44 victory Friday over Carbon County (Utah) in the final game of the Warrior Challenge.

The Wildcats came up with 20 steals, blocked five shots and forced 35 turnovers for the edge they needed, despite a sputtering offense in the second half.

Fruita (3-0) and Smoky Hill were undefeated.

“I’m very happy with today’s performance,” coach Dave Fox said. “It’s been awhile since we’ve come out of this tournament 3-0. I look at it less as a tournament and more like three games, and I’ve seen something I’ve liked in each of these games. I’m happy for the kids and this performance.”

Carbon County (2-1) forced two quick turnovers that led to transition buckets. But Fruita didn’t turn the ball over after its first two possessions, and another bucket by Bridges and a deep two by Zach Thorpe as time expired put the Wildcats up 14-11 after the first quarter.

The Wildcats implemented a full-court press to start the second half, and forced three straight steals. A 9-0 run allowed Fruita to pull away, and another four steals gave them four transition buckets.

“Today we used the press to push the tempo,” Fox said. “The game started slow, which was more in their favor. The press helped us shift favor to our guys.”

Up 34-16 to start the half, the Wildcats didn’t let up on defense.  Two steals led to two easy layups and, working primarily through Bridges, Fruita used its half-court offense to maintain its lead.

Bridges had eight of Fruita’s 10 points in the third quarter and also had four rebounds, two blocks and a steal in that span.

Bridges led the Wildcats with 30 points and 14 rebounds. Padget added 12 points, eight in the fourth quarter.

“We’re a team that’s played together a long time,” Padget said. “We’re going to go over to Denver and hopefully sweep some those tournaments over there against solid teams.”

Longmont 52, Central 38: The Warriors showed plenty of character early, but fell flat in the second half.

After falling behind 15-8 after the first quarter, the Warriors got behind timely shots from Taylor Sanchez and Edward Beacoat to take a 22-19 lead with two minutes left in the first half.

Longmont’s Marcus Johnson hit two short jumpers to give his team a 23-22 lead at halftime.

Central’s issues came in the final six minutes of the third quarter when Longmont switched to a half-court press that isolated Central’s guards and led to steals and fast breaks.

In that time, Longmont pushed its 27-25 lead to 42-31.

“We pretty much hit that same point where we did (Friday) night, hit that stretch where they had two or three possessions in a row where it worked out for them,” Central coach Ryan Hayden said. “The only difference between tonight and last night was we didn’t really come back out after that.”

Sanchez led Central with 11 points. Reilly Mau led Longmont with 21 points and Johnson had 15.

Smoky Hill 65, Fountain Fort Carson 62: Smoky Hill’s Marcus Rhodes didn’t do much from the floor to help his team beat Fountain Fort Carson. He hit only four field goals, but that didn’t stop him from leading his team with 18 points.

The trick was simply getting to the free-throw line, which he did plenty of times, finishing 10 of 14.

Smoky Hill’s Greg Johnson added 12 points. Fort Carson’s Brent Jackson had 17 points and Anthony and Al Davis had 13.


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