‘Cats cap emotional week with win
The exhale was Fruita Monument’s 72-43 home win over Montezuma-Cortez on Friday.
The week prior to the Wildcats’ win in which Alex Padgett scored 30 points and Drew Bridges chipped in 22 points was a rather suffocating inhale, peppered with string of head-throbbing, gut-churning events.
Last Friday, Fruita Monument (16-3, 5-1 Southwestern League) had its 25-game SWL win streak snapped in a loss to Grand Junction.
On Tuesday, Spencer Marlow-Fox, the grandson of Wildcats head coach Dave Fox and stepson of assistant coach Andy Fox, underwent major brain surgery. The surgery, said Dave Fox, was successful.
On Thursday, Fruita point guard Zach Thorpe had reconstructive knee surgery to repair ligament tears in his right knee. That also was successful, Fox said.
But the week of dismal happenings left Fruita despondent, and in need of some run-and-gun basketball to exterminate the blues.
They got it.
“We feel 100 percent better, much better,” Fox said. “Just to be back in basketball, having fun. We wanted them to have a high number of possessions and get out on the break.”
Fun was Padgett looking back to intercept a pass and, although not quite Willie Mays style, making an over-the-shoulder steal before dishing the ball cross-court to Alex Jouflas outside 3-point line.
Padgett cut to the hoop, received a pass from Jouflas, made a sharp dribble and jump stop, then laid the ball in with his left hand to put the Wildcats ahead 58-34 in the third quarter.
Fruita tried not to think about the Grand Junction game. Didn’t happen.
“We definitely thought about it,” Padgett said.
“Oh, we were thinking about it,” Fox said.
Then he added sarcastically, “We were peachy all week.”
They were adjusting to life without The Streak.
“We were just high so long,” said Bridges, a senior. “We hadn’t lost a league game since my sophomore year.”
But the loss can be buried.
And basketball was just basketball once again.
“It all just puts basketball in perspective,” Fox said. “Life isn’t always fair. We tell the guys to look at life and never be too high, and never too low.”
The Fruita Monument girls held Cortez to no field goals in the second half to defeat the Panthers 56-21.
Fruita guard Lauren LaBonde, who played with tape securing her broken left pinky and a sprained right ankle, had five points. But her presence helped Fruita shut down Cortez with man-to-man defense.
“It’s been a frustrating season because of all the injuries,” said LaBonde, Fruita’s leading scorer.
But the injury helped slow her just enough on a fourth quarter fastbreak during which she made a layup and was fouled.
LaBonde said she normally is moving too quickly to have touch on layups.
Fruita (11-9, 4-3 SWL) was led by Kassidy Fair’s 10 points.
The Wildcats are making a late push to possibly be one of the 48 teams in the Class 5A state tournament.
“We definitely feel we’re in the top 48,” Fruita coach Dan Schmalz said. “We need two, three wins to hopefully make a case. It’s a tough spot out here because no one gets much of a chance to see us play.”