Rule change helps hoops teams stay in shape

Both the Grand Junction girls and boys teams practice at the high school today, the first time over the Xmas break

The winter high school sports season in Colorado has always been broken into before Christmas, and after Christmas.

Traditionally the three weeks of competition to begin the season would come to a screeching halt because of a no contact rule from Dec. 24-Jan. 1.

Teams that found a groove in the first half of the season would sometimes have trouble finding the same momentum after the break.

The Colorado High School Activities Association Board of Control took the steps last year to change that rule for 2009-10 season. All winter sports teams can have voluntary practices from Dec. 28-31.

“Usually there was a lot of down time for those kids,” Grand Junction boys basketball coach Dutch Johnson said. “So it’s been nice to get them here for this week.”

The rule change was important for keeping athletes in shape during a time when it’s easy to get lazy. Sam Morgan, a senior at Grand Junction, said working in his shot has never been a problem during the time off — running the court was the problem.

“The hardest part was coming back and getting back into shape,” Morgan said. “So the biggest thing is being able to run all the time to stay in shape.”

Although the practices are scaled back,  Johnson said it’s valuable time to work on things that usually don’t get as much focus during the season.

“We won’t do one thing of 5-on-5 this week,” Johnson said. “It’s more individual stuff, running, working on a lot of the fundamentals.”

The practices also help to ease the transition back into the full schedule. In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for teams to play only a few days after the break.

“We would come back on the second and play on the fourth of fifth,” Johnson said. “So it’s nice at least three practices this week then a full week of practice before our first game after the break.”

Grand Junction will play at Palmer Ridge on Jan. 8.

Tight race

Before the season began, it was the general assumption by the girls coaches in the Southwestern League that nothing was going to come easy. So far in the preseason, that looks to be true.

With the majority of the preseason schedule completed, all six teams in the SWL are over .500.

Central is leading the pack at 6-1. After Central, it’s a couple of seven-win teams in Durango (7-2) and Montrose (7-3). Rounding out the early season standings are Montezuma-Cortez (6-3), Fruita Monument (6-3) and Grand Junction (5-3). The first weekend of conference play will begin on Jan. 15.

fear the cowboys

In the boys 2A Western Slope League, there always seems to be one team on the verge of winning a state championship.

This year, that honor might belong to Meeker (8-0). Last season, the Cowboys went 24-2 and finished third in the state tournament. It wasn’t the Cowboys’ first trip — Meeker won the consolation championship in 2007. This season, the Cowboys return the majority of their team, and their coach, Klark Kindler, is entering is 12th season.

Meeker is led by three seniors who all average double-digits — Mitch Jacob (16.7 ppg), Dakota Rowlett (12.5 ppg) and Colton Brown (10.3).

“Our strength is our experience and depth,” Kindler said. “We are motivated to get back to state, but have harped on getting better every game.”

Top moments

On Christmas Day, The Daily Sentinel rehashed many of the top sports moments in the Grand Valley from the past decade. We want to know what the readers thought.

Remember to send your top memorable moments from the decade to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Tell us your experiences. Were you there when Palisade won it’s state title in football, or did you see the Mesa State baseball team make the Division II World Series? Did we miss anything? Let us know at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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