Warrior boys savor victory over Tigers

Photo by William Woody—Central High School’s Vandon Sanchez, center, steals the ball from Sean Rubalcaba of Grand Junction Friday in the first quarter at Central High School.

The Central High School boys basketball team hasn’t been able to enjoy a lot of victories this season.

But after a 50-47 win over rival Grand Junction (15-8, 6-4 Southwestern League) the Warriors (9-14, 3-7 SWL) lingered on the court and enjoyed the moment.

Scattered across the court were players hugging each other and celebrating with students and girlfriends. There were former players dishing out high-fives and pats on the back.

At one point, guard Vandon Sanchez found himself being hoisted into the air by football player Mical Kramer.

Although the Warriors might not make the postseason, Friday night’s win made it all OK.

“We wanted this win more than anything,” Sanchez said. “We didn’t want to have our last game be a loss.”

The Warriors played with emotion and intensity that had been lacking all season. Central coach Phil Cain said some of that excitement could have been from the Warriors’ different approach to the pregame speech. The 1990 state championship team was having a reunion, and Cain pulled a player from that team to send a message to his own squad before the game.

“Matt Anway talked to the guys and did a great job of talking about some of the games he played against Grand Junction, and the energy it took,” Cain said. “That help set the mood, and it was good for them to have a fresh voice.”

A motivated Central team took the court and raced to a 13-5 first-quarter lead. Josh Wells gave the Warriors a boost by pulling down seven rebounds in the first quarter, something Cain said was important.

“They hurt us on the boards last time, and we did a much better job,” Cain said. “That was able to get some of their guys in foul trouble.”

Grand Junction found its groove in the second quarter with Tommy Powers opening with a 3-pointer. The Tigers cut the lead to 18-16 by halftime.

The Tigers came out of the locker room strong in the second half, taking a 22-18 lead on four straight points from Casey Burns. The Warriors didn’t buckle, and kept with the Tigers, taking a 24-22 lead with a Sanchez layup. Central led 30-29 heading into the fourth quarter.

That’s when Central’s Taylor Sanchez took over. The sophomore guard provided a big bucket whenever the Warriors really needed one.

“He picked it up tonight,” Vandon Sanchez said of his younger brother. “(Thursday) night we both had a tough game, but together we played well tonight.”

The Sanchez brothers led the Warriors in scoring, with Taylor’s 21 points and Vandon’s 15. Burns led the Tigers with 13.


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