Tigers go fourth

33-point fourth quarter
lifts Tigers past Indians

Grand Junction’s D.J. Wells scores two of his game-high 25 points over the defense of Montrose’s Ross Barney on Friday in the Tigers’ 63-41 victory. Wells scored 12 of his points in Grand Junction’s 33-point fourth quarter.

Back in his Orchard Mesa Middle School days, D.J. Wells used to run the floor. First man bringing the ball up the court, because, as he said, “We had nobody.”

Wells has grown some since then. Now 6-foot-7, he not only owned the paint Friday, scoring a game-high 25 points in Grand Junction’s 63-41 Southwestern League boys basketball win over Montrose, the sophomore rebounded and bolted up the court a couple of times.

“I know that if I get a rebound and can’t find anybody,” Wells said, “I just bring it up court.”

Grand Junction (13-5, 5-1 Southwestern League) scored 30 points in the first three quarters.

The Tigers put in 33 points in the final quarter, 12 by Wells.

What changed?

“Something clicked with them,” Grand Junction coach Dutch Johnson said. “I don’t get kids.”

At one point in the second quarter, the Tigers trailed Montrose 20-7. And Johnson pointed out that during a first quarter in which the Tigers didn’t score until 2:31 remained, they were stranded around 3-point land. They didn’t attack the basket. Didn’t pass the ball inside.

Yet after trailing 20-7, Grand Junction went on a 12-0 run that ended with Greg Eccher hitting a 3-pointer that beat the first-half buzzer.

“I didn’t want it to be halftime,” Johnson said. “We finally got some momentum, and now I’m stuck with halftime.”

But in the final quarter, Grand Junction point guard Broderick Robinson began attacking Montrose’s 2-3 zone defense and finding Wells down low.

“Broderick had five points, but I felt like he controlled the game offensively,” Johnson said. “He’s in a bit of a shooting slump, but he didn’t let it bother him.”

Also for Grand Junction, Zach Kiel had 11 points.

“We just had to start playing as a family,” Kiel said. “And it’s more fun to play as a family.”

With two minutes left, many in the family had the opportunity to play. Kason Clutter, in particular, made the most of his playing time, hitting two 3-pointers.

But of Grand Junction’s 33 fourth-quarter points, many came off defensive steals. Wells, meanwhile, limited Montrose’s 6-foot-6 Ross Barney to three points.

Blake Alexander led Montrose (6-10, 4-3) with 10 points.

The Tigers were in man-to-man defense the entire game. Nothing new.

“We’ve been in man for 10 years,” Johnson said. “I’m too dumb to teach anything else.”

Montrose next hosts Central on Tuesday and Grand Junction is at Montezuma-Cortez on Friday.


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