Strong third quarter lifts GJ past Palisade
Drew Derrieux went to the locker room at halftime in foul trouble. The leading scorer for the Grand Junction High School boys basketball team was frustrated and pressing after missing a few shots.
But in the second half Tuesday night, the senior guard channeled his frustrations into rabid defense and a series of fearless finishes at the rim, sparking a run early in the third quarter that led to Grand Junction’s 56-45 victory over Palisade.
“Our coaches did a great job of telling me — I mean, I was forcing things in the first half — that good players just let the game come to them,” Derrieux said. “After half, I mean, you saw the third quarter, everything was better for myself and the team. When I’m not pressing, we play exponentially better.”
Grand Junction coach Isaac Madison said Derrieux forgetting about the first half was key to the offense’s success later in the game.
“We don’t play well when we’re selfish on offense,” Madison said. “We play much better when we cut and screen and get different guys open. When we do, then we can get ours, but it can’t start with ‘I have to get mine.’ You have to play within yourself and do what you can to be a good teammate.”
Derrieux finished with 17 points for the Tigers (6-7). Early on, it was a combination of Preston Deters, Trevor Olkowski, Andrew Hansen and Derek Shaver keeping Grand Junction’s offense moving.
Deters matched Derrieux’s total with 17 points, scoring 13 in the first half. Olkowski hit a pair of early 3-pointers when the Tigers’ offense was otherwise quiet. Shaver provided a post presence and Hansen finished with only three points but had numerous assists, rebounds and steals.
“Andrew is huge for us and he’s absolutely the leader on the floor,” Madison said. “He’s the guy that everybody looks to bring all those guys together. You see him, anytime there is a loose ball, dead ball, hole or anything else, he’s the guy who’s getting people in the right spots and making sure everything goes smoothly.”
Up 11-8 after the first quarter, the Tigers’ offense stalled, with the Bulldogs (2-10) taking charges, clawing for defensive stops and hitting 3-pointers, resulting in a 16-14 lead for Palisade.
From there, the teams went back and forth, with Grand Junction eventually taking a 21-20 lead at halftime.
Palisade coach Jeremiah Baskin said things unraveled on offense in the third quarter, when the Bulldogs scored only five points.
“Third quarter absolutely ruined us,” Baskin said. “We only scored five points, we turned the ball over way too many times. That was our demise tonight. We played three pretty good quarters. We even won two of them. But that third quarter, when you only score five and give up 18, you’re never going to win that game.”
With Derrieux leading the way on offense and Hansen providing a spark on the defensive end, the Tigers pieced together two 6-0 runs in the third quarter to increase their advantage. From there, the Tigers closed it out despite a big offense performance from Daniel McLean, who scored 11 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter.
Madison said it was a solid all-around effort from the Tigers.
“Up until the last six minutes of the first half, I was happy with the way things went,” Madison said. “We challenged them at halftime to step up on the defensive end and play together on offense.”