Ready for a cat fight?
Tigers, 'Cats do battle on mat, court this week
It’s Fruita-Junction week.
Wrestling on Thursday and basketball on Friday.
The Friday basketball doubleheader at Fruita Monument begins at 5:30 p.m. with the Grand Junction girls (13-2, 3-1 Southwestern League) against Fruita Monument (12-5, 3-1), followed by the boys game at 7 p.m.
Both girls teams will try to keep pace with Montrose (11-2, 4-0). Even more, it’s a game many players, coaches and community high school sports enthusiasts look forward to.
“It’s such a fun atmosphere,” said Fruita guard Lauren LaBonde with a particularly stretched smile. “The crowd is huge, the whole student section comes out, especially with Junction; it’s so loud and spirited.”
Speed and excellent outside shooting are strengths of both teams. And both often look for steals and transition layups.
The boys game features teams streaking in opposite directions. Fruita Monument (7-10, 1-3) has lost its past three games by a total of four points.
Grand Junction (12-3, 4-0) has won seven straight, and during that span has won by at least 14 points as the Broderick Robinson-led Tigers are healthy and exhibiting balance among players with distinct roles.
Does any of it matter on Friday?
“Against Junction, in at least the last 30 years, this has always been a huge game,” said Fruita coach Billy Dreher, a 1988 Fruita graduate. Dreher said the rivalry in his playing days was intense — but different.
“Central was very, very good back at that time, too,” Dreher said, “so that became a good rivalry for awhile. But you can kind of throw out the records in this rivalry in most sports.”
Same in the girls basketball game. Grand Junction coach Sam Provenza and Fruita coach Richard Atkins said they will try to control the rivalry hype, and focus on playing basketball.
“There’s always that undercurrent of that rivalry,” Provenza said. “As coaches you try and keep it out of the conversation and much as you can.”
“You can’t control emotion,” Atkins said. “You can only coach basketball.”
LaBonde leads Fruita, averaging 11.7 points per game and 3.0 steals. Sam Parks averages 10.5 points for the Wildcats.
Sydni Brandon leads the Tigers in scoring (10.5 points).
TRUJILLO, RODRIGUEZ: A REMATCH
Barring injuries or sickness or other mishaps, the Grand Junction at Fruita Monument wrestling dual at 7 p.m. on Thursday will feature a 145-pound matchup between wrestlers who are among the state’s best.
Grand Junction’s No. 1-ranked Jacob Trujillo, a defending Class 5A runner-up, will take on No. 3-ranked Isaac Rodriguez.
Trujillo won a 4-1 decision over Rodriguez during the Jackpot Duals three weeks ago.
MOELLER: CSU OFFERS WALK-ON
Rifle’s Ryan Moeller said on Friday he made an official visit to Colorado State University, where the Rams offered him preferred walk-on status. A walk-on is an athlete who is not on scholarship. But in general, a “preferred” walk-on is on track to possibly earn a future scholarship.
“That means they want me,” said Moeller, who rushed for 3,002 yards and, as a safety, had eight interceptions.
Moeller said he will make an unofficial visit to the University of Colorado this weekend. Moeller, who has said the Buffaloes have been his top choice since he was a kid, said he’ll probably decide this weekend on a college.
“I like CU a lot,” Moeller said. “We’ll see what they have to offer.”
PALISADE HOSTs EAGLE VALLEY
The Palisade boys basketball team (9-4, 7-1 4A Western Slope League) host Eagle Valley (10-2, 6-1) for the league lead Thursday.
Eagle Valley has won three straight games.
Palisade coach Brain Tafel said Eagles guard Sam Loundsberry is 6-foot-3 and an excellent perimeter shooter.
“He’s kind of unlike a lot of kids in our league because he’s got height on the perimeter,” Tafel said.
Palisade is coming off Saturday’s 66-51 win at Summit, where the Bulldogs connected on 6 of 13 3-pointers. Luke McLean, Skyler Miller and Tass Crow made two apiece.
WSL SWIMMING THIS WEEKEND
The Western Slope League Championships in swimming are Friday and Saturday at El Pomar Natatorium.
Action begins with preliminaries at 4 p.m. on Friday.
Finals are Saturday. Diving warmups begin at 8 a.m. and races begin at 1:30 p.m.
Grand Junction coach Janet Ryan expects 11 teams, including Delta, Montrose, Grand Junction, Palisade-Central and Fruita Monument, to participate, with the possible addition of Summit.
While Grand Junction will feature Taylor Kidd, who is the defending Western Slope League champion in the 200-yard and 500 freestyle, Montrose will bring diver Larissa Grammer, ranked the No. 6 in the event in Class 4A, and Logan Morris, whose 1 minute, 8.12-second time in the 100 breaststroke is ranked No. 2 in the state.
Montrose coach Ellen Erickson said Durango is the favorite to win because of its depth.
Erickson said the meet’s site used to rotate between Grand Junction, Montrose and Durango high schools.
“That was before the Mesa pool was built,” Erickson said. “It’s such a great facility and perfect for this.”