Palisade, Fruita boys on verge of league titles

With two weeks left in the regular basketball season, teams are smelling district playoffs.

The Palisade and Fruita boys team can win out and grab league titles.

In the boys Southwestern League, Fruita Monument (16-3, 5-1) controls its own destiny. If the Wildcats win their final four games, they win the SWL title and automatically qualify for the 48-team Class 5A state tournament bracket.

“That’s our major goal right now,” Fruita coach Dave Fox said. “We’ve won the league the last several years.”

Fruita is coming off a 70-65 loss at Grand Junction on Friday.

“It was a tough loss, but sometimes you get better because of that,” Fox said. “We’ll bounce back.”

Montrose (17-3, 6-1) plays at Fruita Monument on Feb. 17, which should determine the league champion.

But Montrose must defeat Central on Wednesday and take care of Grand Junction (11-7, 4-2) at home Feb. 14.

The Palisade boys can win out and claim the 4A Western Slope League.

The Bulldogs (15-4, 7-1) have a half-game lead over second-place Eagle Valley (16-5, 8-2) with four games remaining.

Most notable for Palisade is a Feb. 14 home game against Delta (14-5, 7-2).

In the Class 2A/1A Western Slope League, Meeker (14-1, 6-0) is the only team undefeated in league. Cooper Smith leads the Cowboys, averaging 18.7 points.

The Grand Junction girls, meanwhile, are undefeated in the Southwestern League with remaining games against Durango, Cortez, Montrose and Central.

The Tigers (16-3, 6-0 SWL) play Feb. 14 at Montrose (11-9, 6-1).

Jamie Derrieux is averaging 22.4 points and 4.9 rebounds for Grand Junction.

In the girls 4A Western Slope League, Glenwood Springs (17-3, 8-1) and Delta (16-3, 8-1) are tied atop the league standings.

Glenwood and Delta have beaten each other once and will not face each other again in the regular season.

Shank remains undefeated: Olathe senior Zach Shank, a two-time state champion, is 33-0.

If he remains healthy, Shank, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A at 132 pounds, could become a four-time state finalist.

“He’s one of those guys who practices at school, then goes home and does some more,” Olathe coach Tee Jay Rose said.

Rose said some wrestlers have avoided Shank this season, changing weight classifications to possibly improve their state title chances.

“Most everybody who knows him kind of went up or down,” Rose said.

Austin Shank, Zach’s freshman brother, is 25-5 and ranked No. 2 at 106 pounds.


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