‘Full attack mode’
Robinson's big game lifts Tigers into Sweet 16
Any opponent can watch film of Broderick Robinson and detect what the Grand Junction High School dynamo can do on offense: Shoot the 3, drive the lane, drain a pull-up or turnaround jumper from almost anywhere.
But even his coaches, who see what he can do daily, get a surprise just about every game. Saturday’s was his running, scooping shot as he sliced through the lane to close the first half. The ball did what just about every other shot Robinson took in the first half did: It went in.
It also gave the Tigers a 32-17 lead en route to a 48-37 victory over Fort Collins in the second round of the Class 5A boys basketball state tournament.
The victory sends Grand Junction (18-5) on the road to face Regis Jesuit (20-4), the region’s top seed, in a Sweet 16 game Wednesday. The Raiders, who boast one of the state’s top players, Josh Perkins, advanced with a 56-52 win over Boulder on Saturday.
Grand Junction coach Dutch Johnson called Perkins a special player, but the Tigers will counter with their own, Robinson, who had a hot hand in the first half Saturday, scoring 21 of his game-high 27 points.
Robinson scored the Tigers’ first 10 points, including two 3-pointers, as Grand Junction took a 17-4 lead with 3½ minutes left in the first quarter. He waited until the second quarter to resume scoring, draining a 3-pointer, which was followed three possessions later by a runner in the lane that gave the Tigers a 26-9 lead.
Before the half was over, he added a turnaround jumper from the left elbow, a runner down the right side of the lane and that scoop shot that passed through the net with one second left in the half.
The latter came when Grand Junction inbounded the ball with five seconds to go. Robinson took the pass on the left wing and made his way to the lane, weaving through traffic, which for Fort Collins included the likes of 6-foot-8 Toby Van Ry and 6-6 Tristan Von Nieda.
“I just came out in full attack mode,” Robinson said of his start. “Coach said, ‘Just go do your thing.’ “
Johnson acknowledged the boost Robinson gave the Tigers’ offense and said defense was equally important in Saturday’s win.
“I thought we did a real good job of guarding the paint and not letting them get to the basket and throw it in to their bigs, because that’s kind of their strength,” Johnson said. “To hold a team like that to under 40 is a testament to our kids and how well they guarded and how tough they were on the defensive end.”
The second half was a different story for Grand Junction’s offense, as the Lambkins face-guarded Robinson, trying to deny him the ball. He got a few shots, but four were off target before he finally sank a 17-foot jumper from straight away. It was the Tigers’ lone field goal in the third quarter, which became the Kyler Rose show for a stretch when the Grand Junction senior would go strong to the basket, get fouled, then shoot free throws.
That was the plan, according to Rose and Johnson.
“We were pump faking them and trying to get them in foul trouble,” Rose said.
Indeed, Von Nieda fouled out with 4:50 left in the game, and Van Ry fouled out with 2:22 remaining.
The only problem was the Tigers weren’t converting at the stripe, making a mere 15 of 30 for the game.
“I had trouble with that tonight,” said Rose, who made three of 10 free-throw attempts.
Fort Collins, meanwhile, got back in the game by making 3-pointers, including three late in the third quarter to pull within 36-30. The Lambkins got within 42-37 on a tip-in with 2:13 to go, but that ended their scoring as the Tigers made six of 10 free throws to close out the contest.
Fort Collins coach Monty Alcaraz said he thought his team was ready to play, but once the game started, it didn’t look like it.
The Lambkins’ shots weren’t falling in the first half, and he said the shooting performance was out of character for his team.
And it didn’t help that Robinson started so hot.
“We gave him too much space,” Alcaraz said. “We didn’t double him early enough.”