3rd-quarter run lifts Fruita past Palisade

3rd-quarter run lifts Fruita past Palisade

Fruita Monument’s Drew Bridges, white, battles Palisade’s Kane Gunther, 33, for a rebound Tuesday night in the Wildcats’ 63-49 victory at Brownson Arena. Bridges scored 18 points in the win.

Finally, if only for a few seconds, he was a point guard.

Fruita Monument’s 6-foot-4 Drew Bridges stole the ball at half court. Before him was nothing but open court. Each dribble was a fantasy. The “guard” was on the break. Finally.

Bridges laid the ball in, drew an intentional foul call and hit a pair of free throws to boost the Wildcats to a 63-49 win over Palisade on Tuesday at Colorado Mesa University’s Brownson Arena.

“I’m a point guard at heart,” said Bridges, who scored 18 points. “People may not know I’m a point guard. But I can dribble.”

So he thinks, says Wildcats coach Dave Fox.

“He’s been begging to be a point guard since he was young,” Fox said. “I kept telling him to handle the ball better.”

Yet for one half-court romp, Bridges handled the ball well enough. It was part of a third-quarter run in which Fruita scored on eight of nine possessions.

Palisade (14-4), which last weekend had its 14-game winning streak snapped at Eagle Valley, came in with a reputation of toughness.

The Bulldogs lived up to it.

But Fruita (16-2) matched their scrappiness.

“A lot of people say Palisade is tough, well, we’re Fruita tough,” Fruita forward Alex Padgett said. “You look at our schedule and we’ve played some real tough games.”

Padgett scored a team-high 21 points, including three 3-pointers.

Palisade was within 29-25 early in the third quarter after a Connor Whaley 3-pointer.

Then came Bridges. First he hit a turnaround. Then he became a point guard — he sunk the layup and free throws and gave Fruita the ball back on the intentional foul by Jesus Aguirre.

Next possession, Padgett was waving his hands. Standing at the spot that collegians stand for a 3-pointer — the second, farther, 3-point line — he called for the ball. The ball didn’t come.

Padgett kept waving. Finally, Fruita guards swung the ball around the perimeter to Padgett, who hit the 3 and put Fruita ahead 38-25.

“I kind of like the double line,” Padgett said. “I shoot the ball better from a little farther out.”

So did Palisade’s Caleb Hall, who sunk three 3s and scored 15 points.

Kane Gunther, in foul trouble for much of the game, added 13 points.

“I just think (Fruita) is awfully good,” Palisade coach Steve Phillips said. “They’re real athletic and have great talent. The biggest difference was that third quarter.”

It was the quarter Bridges lived a lifelong dream for a moment.

“I always wanted to be a guard,” he said. “Obviously it never works out.”

Eagle Valley 75, Central 65: After ending Palisade’s 14-game winning streak last weekend, Eagle Valley (13-5) won at home against Central (0-19).


Palisade 62, Rifle 7: Daniel Salazar (132 pounds), Eddie Vial (170), Zach Judis (182), Matt Pitton (195) and Jory Gardner (285) had pins as the visiting Bulldogs routed Rifle.

Also for Palisade, Dalton Hannigan scored a 9-0 major decision over Rifle’s Isaac Rider at 120 pounds and Trevor Garcia recorded a major decision, 10-2, over Brandon Kittle at 138 pounds.

For Rifle, Hugo Ruelas won a 14-3 major decision over Ronnie LaRue at 145 pounds.


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