Youngren helps Indians top ‘Cats

Fruita Monument’s Spencer Fair soars in to score two of his 16 points Tuesday as Montrose’s Benton Cruz defends in the Indians’ 48-44 victory.

There was some proof Tuesday that football skills can translate to the hardwood.

Angelo Youngren, a prolific running back last fall for Montrose High School, showed off vision, speed and poise in the fourth quarter at Fruita Monument.

After Montrose held off the Wildcats for a 48-44 win, even Indians coach Martin Maloney was speaking about Youngren in football-like terms.

“It’s nice to have a kid with so much awareness,” Maloney said. “He gets the ball to the right guys, just makes very good decisions.”

But instead of spotting an open running lane in a defensive line, or taking a halfback option pass and finding the open receiver, Youngren was outrunning guards, hitting 3-pointers (two of them) and making nifty passes to post players.

Fruita Monument (8-11, 2-4 Southwestern League) was down 30-18 in the third quarter, but came back to cut the lead to 39-38 with 1:40 left in the fourth quarter despite its tallest players, 6-foot-4 Matt Story and 6-7 Spencer Fair, often in foul trouble.

That’s when Youngren, who finished with 10 points, dribbled three-quarters of the court, charged the lane and scooped in a layup. Thirty seconds later, Youngren made a baseline entry pass that skipped past Story and into the hands of junior center Ross Barney, who laid the ball in to put Montrose (6-9, 4-2) ahead 43-39.

With 20 seconds left, Youngren also hit a pair of free throws to put Montrose ahead 45-42. Touchdown.

But it was Barney who dominated inside, scoring a game-high 17 points.

Fair finished with 16 for Fruita, including a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left that left Fruita down 43-42.

“Me and Spencer are great friends,” Barney said. “Family friends. He played tough ‘D.’ It was just good to see him out here.”

After Youngren’s free throws with 20 seconds remaining, Fruita was down, 45-42. The Wildcats broke a full-court press and missed two 3-pointers before Story collected an offensive rebound and was fouled with 2.7 seconds left. Fruita coach Billy Dreher said he wanted Story to miss the second free throw to the right side, where Fair was attempting to be for a putback. But Story made the free throw.

Montrose then made three of four throws, two coming on a technical foul because Fruita had six players on the court, to close the game.

Dreher said he’d rather the Wildcats hadn’t been down by 16 points in the first place. And, he said, the Wildcats’ emotional win over rival Grand Junction last week was no reason for a letdown. Every game is like a playoff at this point, he said.

“We got out of the gate well, which we had been doing, but I thought we lacked intensity and focus in the second and third quarters,” Dreher said. “Montrose was getting some loose balls; we had some rebounds that went right through our hands; we were losing those 50-50 type things that they need to get.”

Down 36-20 late in the third quarter, Fruita cut the lead to 38-30 with 6 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Dreher added he was proud of his players for the comeback.

“But why were we 15, 16 points in the hole?” he said.

Leave it to a running back, Youngren, to put away a game that often rewards finesse.


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