Zone defense, Derrieux lift Junction past Montrose

Zone defense, Derrieux lift Junction past Montrose

Grand Junction’s Jamie Derrieux scores two of her game-high 35 points Friday night in first quarter of the Tigers’ 54-40 victory over Montrose. The win gave Grand Junction the lead in the Southwestern League.


Finally, after three quarters of basketball that was as much a chess match as a basketball game can be, Grand Junction figured out the move that left Montrose without one.

It was the 2-3 zone defense the Tigers applied in the fourth quarter.

And host Grand Junction held the Indians to three points in the final quarter of a 54-40 win.

The win for the Tigers (15-3, 5-0 Southwestern League) broke a tie atop the league standings with Montrose (9-9, 4-1).

Grand Junction coach Sam Provenza knew what to expect from Montrose: A lot of strategic zones, a lot of countering, and a lot of, well, chess moves.

“They’re well coached,” Provenza said. “I told the girls, You’ll have to solve problems like it was a big test question.”

Problem solved. There was Jamie Derrieux, leading Grand Junction with 35 points. She flashed in and out of the zone defenses, finding short jumpers and layups, but not hitting her 3-point shot until late in the game. Once again, she almost scored as she pleased.

“She would be the queen (in chess),” Provenza said. “the queen pretty much can go anywhere. But if you asked her she’d say when was the pawn.”

Moving the chess pieces, according to Provenza, was a 14-year-old, Sydni Brandon, a freshman directing a Class 5A team.

And the rook?

“Kricket Adleman,” Provenza said. “She kind of holds everything together.”

The chess-like maneuvering began something like this: Grand Junction opened up in a matchup zone defense, which extended players away from the basket and close to the halfcourt line.

Montrose countered by bringing Kala Keltz (18 points) behind those defenders for open jump shots at the top of the free-throw line and above the 3-point line. She hit three 3-pointers in the first half.

So Grand Junction went to a man-to-man defense in the third quarter.

Montrose found limited open shots.

Before Montrose could counter in the fourth quarter, Provenza went to the 2-3 zone, and sometimes a half-court trapping defense. And the checkmate was in effect.

Although Montrose could not get open jump shots under the pressure, Derrieux was hassling the Indians on defense. Early in the fourth quarter, she deflected a pass to Adleman at halfcourt, then ran to the basket to catch a pass and finish a layup to put the Tigers up 43-38.

She followed that with a four-point play after being bumped on a 3-pointer.

“They started out with a ‘D’ we weren’t used to seeing,” Derrieux said. “They packed it in tight and played hard.”

Once Derrieux’s 3-point shot began to loosen the defense, however, the Tigers’ offense got rolling.

After her four-point play, Derrieux, who during the last track season anchored the Tigers’ 400- and 800-meter relays that set school records, swooped in and around the Montrose defense ­— with or without the ball — and drew fouls for free throws.

But her longest sprint came in the second half when Brandon was fouled hard and slid behind the basket. Derrieux ran the length of the court to help Brandon up. Derrieux told Brandon, “I had to protect you so I decided to sprint to pick you up.”

It works both ways.

“When she’s knocked down, I run,” Brandon said. “We’re always the first to one another.”


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