Tigers catch fire, defeat Durango

It took the Grand Junction High School boys basketball team a bit of time to find its touch in Friday’s 54-31 win over Durango, but once the Tigers found it, they caught fire.

Leading 19-15 at the half, the Tigers got behind Tyler Winder, Tommy Powers and Mark Stern, who all connected from behind the arc to give Grand Junction a 13-2 run to open the third quarter.

“It’s kind of contagious once one kid starts shooting the ball well,” Grand Junction coach Dutch Johnson said. “Kids start shooting with confidence.”

Although the Tigers struggled early, missing 3-point attempts and falling behind by as many as five points in the second quarter, Sean Rubalcaba gave the Tigers a bit of a boost off the bench.

Rubalcaba got down low in the post on fast breaks, hitting a layup and drawing two fouls.

“(Rubalcaba’s) definitely a good energy guy to bring off the bench,” Johnson said. “He does a lot of little things. He guards, he rebounds well. He’s a smart player and he gave us some good minutes tonight.”

Once Rubalcaba gave the offence some momentum, Winder took it from there, hitting two 3-pointers in the closing minutes. Powers added a bucket and Stern put in two free throws to give the Tigers their only lead of the quarter.

“We just came out ready to play,” Winder said. “We started off slow but we knew some shots would start falling and we kept shooting.”

The Tigers took over in the third quarter, outscoring the Demons 20-7. The Tigers’ defense didn’t allow more than seven points in each of the final three quarters.

“When you can do that you’re going to give yourself a chance to win no matter who you’re playing,” Johnson said.

Durango was led by 6-foot-5 post player Austin Rochford, who finished with 12 points. Rochford was matched up early against Jesse Smith, although Smith got into foul trouble.

Winder led the Tigers with 14 points, Stern had eight and Sam Morgan seven.


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