Central celebrates: Warriors cut down net to commemorate stellar season

Photo by William Woody—Central High School’s Maddi Vana, center, reaches for a rebound against Grand Junction’s Nicole Dohm on Friday night in the the fourth quarter of the Warriors’ 54-40 win over the Tigers.

When Central High School girls basketball coach Todd Dixon cut the final string that held the net to the cylinder, it marked not only a Southwestern League championship, but the culmination of four years of hard work for the Warriors’ seven seniors.

With a 54-40 win over Grand Junction on Friday night, the Warriors (20-3, 10-0 SWL) celebrated winning their third straight SWL title and Dixon’s first 20-win season as a coach.

The Warriors clinched the league title with a win at Montrose on Thursday night, but waited until the win against the Tigers (13-10, 4-6 SWL) to officially celebrate.

“We thought we’d get in a little trouble for cutting down the nets in Montrose, so we saved it until we got here,” Dixon said. “There are a bunch of things that it represents. Four years of excellence, four years of undefeated at home, three SWL titles, so there was plenty to celebrate and cutting down the nets is a way to experience that.”

The Warriors savored the moment after the win, but the Tigers didn’t make it easy. Grand Junction came out and challenged the Warriors from the opening tip.

In the first half, the Tigers had an answer for every Central attack. In the first quarter, Camille Goodsell matched an Amy Kame 3-pointer to tie the score at 10-10. The Tigers took a 20-17 lead at one point of the second quarter, but Central regained the lead by halftime, 23-21.

“Junction brought it tonight, and I was impressed with how they were prepared,” Dixon said. “Defensively we couldn’t find our rhythm, which is half our fault, but you have to give them credit for disrupting us.”

The Tigers’ aggressive first-half play caught up to them, with starters Fawn Brady and Stephanie Drake getting into early foul trouble.

“I thought defensively we had a good game plan, but we lost our rhythm when we got in foul trouble,” Grand Junction coach Sam Provenza said. “At one point we had three starters on the bench with foul trouble, and we were having a hard time scoring.”

Central took advantage of the Tigers’ second team, led by Stacey Kinnett, who closed out the quarter with a 3-pointer to stretch the Warriors’ lead to 40-30. Kinnett finished with 12 points.

“We needed everyone to contribute and Coach told me to look for the jumper,” Kinnett said.

Central held its lead in the fourth quarter. Amy Kame followed Thursday’s 40-point performance with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

Jamie Derrieux led the Tigers with 16 points. Grand Junction is all but assured a playoff spot, but is hoping to host a first-round game. Central is looking to nab a top two seed when the playoff brackets are released Sunday.

“If you told me before the season that we would be 20-3, I would have taken that every day and twice on Sunday,” Dixon said. “That puts us in a great position to get at least a two seed.”


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