Tigers team up to top Indians
Big games from Robinson, Wells help teammates shine in win
MONTROSE — In a game hyped for having the Southwestern League’s two leading scorers, Grand Junction High School’s Broderick Robinson and Montrose’s Kyle Freeburg, it was D.J. Wells who stole the show Friday night and lifted the Tigers to a 66-44 victory in the league opener for both teams.
Robinson, playing through an illness, still put up huge numbers with 22 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and two assists. But Wells scored 12 points, was 4 of 6 from the free-throw line and was dominating on defense for Grand Junction (10-2, 1-0 SWL). Montrose (5-5, 0-1 SWL) was without big man Cole Auker, who rolled an ankle, and early foul trouble limited the impact of Ross Barney.
With two, and sometimes three, defenders crashing to contain Wells, it opened up the floor for a bevy of 3-point shots for the Tigers.
Grand Junction hit eight 3-pointers, three coming from Trenton Soriano in the first half. Soriano finished with 11 points, and coach Dutch Johnson said Wells and Robinson opened up the floor for everyone.
“D.J. just draws so much darn attention,” Johnson said. “Broderick, too. So much attention has to be paid to those two guys that it opens up the floor for everyone else. You get games like the one Ridge (Droskin) had a few nights ago or the one Trenton had tonight. I thought it was a good team win tonight, and we did a lot of things well offensively.”
The Tigers started slow, hoisting up jump shots, and Montrose trailed only 12-11 after the first quarter. Grand Junction opened the second quarter with a 9-0 run and a focus on getting to the rim.
“I thought we took too many jumpers early,” Johnson said. “I told them that we need to be able to get to the rim, and when we started doing that, it opened up our ability to shoot in the second quarter.”
Over the second and third quarters, Grand Junction stretched its lead to as many as 25 points, quieting a loud crowd at Montrose High School.
The Tigers scored 21 points in both the second and third quarters behind an extremely balanced effort. Nine players scored for Grand Junction, which pushed the floor as Montrose worked with a short bench.
Johnson said beginning the league schedule at Montrose, a place with many real and perceived home-court advantages, was a key step in hardening his squad as the season progresses.
“You know, you come to Montrose, and they’re a very good team with a very good gym,” Johnson said. “It’s loud, and it can be hard to play here. But it was important for us to come in here and open league play ... important to open league play with a win, especially in a place like Montrose, where it’s one of the toughest places to play in the league.
“I thought our guys battled hard on offense and defense, and this was a quality win for us.”
The Tigers limited Freeburg to four points in the first half, a season low, and 15 points in the game. Senior point guard Angelo Youngren took a lot of shots, but struggled to find a rhythm and finished with six points.