Tigers tamed

With Derrieux in foul trouble, GJ falls to Rocky Mountain

Grand Junction’s Bree Baldwin is fouled on her way to the basket Saturday in the Tigers’ 60-48 loss to Rocky Mountain in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs. Baldwin scored eight points in the loss.

Through a faint, pink blush of disappointment that had settled into in her cheeks, Grand Junction’s Jamie Derrieux clapped for the ball.

There was 20 seconds remaining in the Class 5A girls state tournament second round game on Saturday — really, 20 seconds left in Derrieux’s high school basketball experience — yet she played on.

Through that sadness, through the remnants of a sickness that had her laid up in bed for three days this week, Derrieux made a last dash to the basket, pulled up, and drained the final jump shot of her four-year career as a Tiger.

No. 6 Rocky Mountain (17-8) defeated No. 3 Grand Junction (19-5) 60-48.

The Lobos were able to get three fouls on Derrieux in the first six minutes of the game, and, in the second quarter, hit four 3-pointers to lead 34-19 at halftime.

One of the 3s, the kind that rips oxygen from a basketball player’s lungs, hit the backboard before rattling in, courtesy of Lobos guard McKenna Dando.

“That’s basketball,” Grand Junction coach Sam Provenza said. “And they hit most of those 3s in transition.”

Another 3 in the fourth quarter, again off transition, seemed to halt a Junction rally. The Tigers missed a layup, and at the other end, after a couple quick passes, Dando, just as she caught a pass, squared up and chucked another 3.

And wham — Rocky Mountain led 47-37 with five minutes left.

In addition to Derrieux, four Tigers played their final games in high school — Lexi Anderson, Kricket Adleman, Holly Meer and Morgen Wilder.

Thinking of the group, and of no longer playing with the likes of freshman Sydni Brandon — who was on crutches for two weeks with a sprained ankle and did not run until Thursday — afterward brought streams of tears to Derrieux’s eyes.

Derrieux will continue to play basketball at the University of Northern Colorado.

But after four seasons, friends no longer will share the high school hoops moments of eye contact on a fastbreak or laughs when speaking during free throws or, of course, the joys of winning.

“They’ve been the best part of high school,” Derrieux said. “Every second of it is so valuable. You create friendships with girls that last a lifetime.”

Derrieux loved the melting pot of hoops, this group of Tigers that includes freshman through seniors, who were able to bond and mesh and make a run into the state tournament.

But it ended far earlier than they would have liked.

“We wanted to win this game so badly,” Derrieux said. “I thought we played with a lot of heart. But we won league and we can be proud of what we accomplished.”

By the way, this is not the final in the line of Derrieux’s.

Jamie’s younger brother, Drew, is in seventh grade.

Like Jamie, he’s awaiting his growth spurt.

“He’s little,” Derrieux said. “But I’m sure he’ll shoot up.”


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