‘Cats on the run
Quickness, pressure D give Fruita first win
Fast pace, pressure defense, run, run and run — that was a winning formula for the Fruita Monument High School boys basketball team Tuesday night at Brownson Arena.
The Wildcats used their deep bench to keep the pressure on the Rifle Bears throughout the game in a 52-45 win.
With 10 different players scoring points and only two in double figures, the Wildcats’ depth, quickness and relentless defensive pressure was the difference in the game.
“You always want to get the first one,” Fruita Monument head coach Billy Dreher said. “We had some good moments and we had some bad moments.”
Dreher said the Wildcats will have to shoot much better moving forward.
“I don’t know how many open shots we missed,” he said. “We have to shoot better from 3-point range.”
Neither team shot the ball well in the first half but with the Wildcats holding a 22-17 halftime lead, a couple of 3s got Fruita Monument off to a rousing start to open the third quarter.
The game was played at the helter-skelter pace that Dreher was looking for. Dylan Row drilled a pair of 3-pointers — the only 3s of the game — to increase the lead to 28-19. Then the Wildcats’ defense started to take over and force Rifle into numerous turnovers.
Brandon Kubic scored off a steal, then Devin Winstanley hit a layup off another turnover to put the Wildcats up 32-19 after a 10-2 run to open the third.
Rifle had trouble handling the trapping, aggressive pressure defense at times, especially in the third quarter.
But the Bears refused to wilt and rallied to keep the game from getting out of hand. Six straight points cut the lead to nine, then 6-foot-6 senior Tanner Quick hit two inside buckets to slice the lead to 34-29.
Quick was a force inside, scoring a game-high 23 points. Fruita Monument swarmed the Rifle big man whenever they could but he still battled to take the ball to the basket. He also had an impact on the defensive end of the court, grabbing rebounds and affecting a number of inside shots with his height.
In the fourth quarter, the Wildcats’ pressure again created scoring opportunities and when Winstanley hit Matt Story in the lane with a quick pass for a bucket, the lead was 38-29. Fruita stretched the lead to 46-35 when Sawyer Robison hit two free throws.
Quick and Trenton Brown hit baskets to keep the Bears close but the Wildcats held on, hitting six free throws down the stretch.
Dreher said the Wildcats will look to use the same formula — running and pressure defense — throughout the season.
“That’s what we want to do, keep up the pace and tire the other team out,” he said.
He added that he’s still working with different rotations to see which combinations work best.
The pace was fast in the first half but the scoring was nearly nonexistent. Quick made a slick reverse layup to give the Bears a 6-5 lead after the first quarter. But Grant Stagg hit a jumper, then a layup off a steal to give the Wildcats an 11-8 lead. That was followed by four straight points by Kubic and the Wildcats never trailed again.
Row and Winstanley led a balanced scoring attack with 10 points each. Stagg added seven.
Clinton Farr added eight points for the Bears.