Central senior provides lift in loss
Sometimes the smallest victories make the biggest moments, and the Central High School boys basketball team might have found a rallying point Tuesday despite falling 61-32 to Fruita Monument.
Central (0-23, 0-9 Southwestern League) was being handled by league leader Fruita (19-3, 7-1 SWL). Underclassmen were playing the final minutes and the crowd was disengaged.
And then senior guard Thad Wilcox almost scored.
Wilcox was playing in only his fifth game this season, and had yet to take a shot, much less score a point.
“Record-wise we haven’t had much to be positive about,” Central coach Ryan Hayden said. “But these kids are a close group and they work for each other. Thad is a kid who is playing basketball for the first time since maybe seventh grade and he’s someone they rally around.”
When Wilcox was fouled driving the lane, that’s when the “Thad” chants began, and the entire Warrior bench stood up.
The crowd roared when Wilcox’s first free throw clanked around the rim before spinning out. The fans roared even louder when he ran down his second miss and dished it to teammate Giles Woolsey, who gave Wilcox his official stat of the season, an assist.
“He’s not a real talented kid, but we chose to keep him (on the team) because he works his tail off,” Hayden said. “He really exemplifies toughness and what we’re trying to do on defense even if he’s sometimes not good enough to play a lot of varsity minutes.”
For Fruita, the lopsided victory means a chance to challenge Montrose at home on Friday for the SWL title. Both squads have one conference loss, Fruita’s against Grand Junction, and Montrose’s against Fruita, 60-48, in January. Fruita held a two-point lead in the fourth quarter before pulling away.
“We’ve got to do a better job matching up against Cameron Jones,” Fruita coach Dave Fox said. “He’s a strong, physical kid and we have to focus on cutting off some of his driving lanes.
“Just taking care of business on offense. We had some turnovers and let them creep back into the game.”
Strong post play aided the Wildcats, with Drew Bridges and Spencer Fair combining for 14 layups.
“Me and Drew’s first priority is getting the rebounds,” Fair said. “Just getting the scrappy balls and putting them back in.”
Bridges led the Wildcats with 20 points. Fair chipped in 14 points, and Cody Daniels had 13 points.
Edward Beacoat scored 10 points for Central. Taylor Sanchez, Robert Chandler and Woolsey each had five points.
Montrose 65, Grand Junction 54: Nathan Hawley had 30 points, including four 3-pointers, as Montrose defeated Grand Junction.
Montrose (19-3, 8-1 Southwestern League) remains tied atop the SWL league standing with Fruita Monument.
Fruita can win the league title with a win Friday against Montrose.
Montrose took a 34-18 lead into halftime.
Jordan Cribari added 14 points for Montrose. Casey Burns led the Tigers (13-8, 6-3) with 13 points.