‘Cats come back to top Durango

The Fruita Monument High School girls basketball team may need to change its nickname to the Rally Cats.

For the third consecutive game, the Wildcats fell behind early before rallying in the second half to defeat Durango 54-48 in a Southwestern League game on Friday night at Fruita Monument High School.

“It feels great,” Fruita senior Taylor Johnson said. “We took what they gave us. That was a big win. We need to keep going and win our home games.”

Johnson led the Wildcats (8-7, 1-1 SWL) with 16 points and four blocked shots before fouling out with 2:13 left in the game. Keila Utu had 12 points and Jessica Sinner added 10. Aspen McKeever led Durango with 14 points and Taylor Perry had 10.

“We are continuing our recent streaks of slow starts,” Fruita coach Dan Schmalz said. “We had a slow start against Grand Junction, a slow start against Glenwood, a slow start tonight. I hope we’re ready (today) at noon, instead of about 12:20.”

Fruita Monument hosts Montezuma-Cortez at noon today.

Durango (6-7, 1-2) stayed close with the Wildcats by going to the basket and drawing fouls. The Demons shot two more free throws than Fruita and made 16 of 24. The Wildcats shot 11 of 22 from the free-throw line.

“I think the reason it was as close as it was is we foul too much,” Schmalz said. “I thought our man to man was tough. Our guards pressured the ball really well. I think we committed some silly fouls, that’s the only reason they stayed in the game as long as they did.”

The Demons scored on their first three possessions to take a 7-0 lead and led 12-11 after the first quarter.

Fruita Monument grabbed the lead for a moment a of couple times in the second quarter, but the game was tied 24-24 at halftime.

“It was halftime again,” Johnson said. “We had a conversation how we need to attack and go to the basket. We kept putting up shots and that wasn’t working for us.”

The Wildcats went on a 10-3 run to open the third quarter and take a 34-27 lead. They led 37-34 going into the fourth.

Johnson hit two 3-pointers in the final quarter, but picked up her fifth foul after her second 3-pointer to give Fruita a 49-42 lead.

“We’re not a one-man team,” Schmalz said. “Taylor is a huge part of what we do, but the other nine girls that played tonight did something good. I’m proud of them.”

The Demons tried to press Fruita after hitting two foul shots, but the Wildcats were able to break the press and score baskets underneath to seal the win.


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