‘Cats shake off rust, win first game of tourney

Sam Parks scored 25 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, as the Fruita Monument girls basketball team defeated Grants, N.M., 65-56 in the first round of the Kirtland Central (N.M.) Tournament on Thursday.

Grants scored the game’s first seven points, but the Wildcats battled back to take a 31-23 lead at the half.

“For our first game back from the holidays, you could tell we hadn’t played in a while,” Fruita coach Richard Atkins said. “We were rusty.”

But the Wildcats (8-2) got better as the game went on, including a second quarter in which they outscored Grants 21-12.

In the fourth quarter, Grants fouled down the stretch to try to come back, but Fruita made enough of its free throws, 8 of 14, to keep control.

“The kids came through and made the free throws,” Atkins said. “Then we changed our defense and kept Grants off balance.”

Kassidy Fair made all four of her free throws in the final quarter, earning praise from her coach.

“She made some free throws at critical times,” Atkins said. “We needed her to do that, and she stepped up.”

He also spoke highly of Parks’ effort, saying the senior guard played well and scored her points in a variety of ways: jump shots, fast-break baskets and putbacks. Parks also made 7 of 8 free throws.

The Wildcats play the winner of Thursday’s game between Ignacio and Shiprock, N.M., in a second-round game at 5:30 p.m. today. The winner advances to the tourney championship game Saturday.

Boys basketball

The Fruita Monument boys basketball team rallied from a 24-8 halftime deficit to cut the Piedra Vista lead to three points early in the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats lost 53-39 on Thursday in the Aztec Tournament in Aztec, N.M.

Spencer Fair led the Wildcats (4-6) with 12 points. Steven Jaquez paced Piedra Vista (6-8) with 22 points and five 3-pointers.

Fruita Monument scored just two points in the first quarter.

“After a month break you’re going to be a little rusty,” said Fruita coach Billy Dreher, whose Wildcats made 4 of 23 field goals in the first half. “We had a bunch of turnovers and just looked awful.”

Dreher said Fruita early in the fourth quarter missed a couple of open jump shots that would have cut the lead to one.

“Then we had to scramble toward the end,” he said.

Also for the Wildcats, Matt Story had eight points.

Fruita plays Shiprock at 1 p.m. today.

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