Defense keys Tigers’ win over Cortez
The Grand Junction High School boys basketball team has gotten back to playing well by getting back to playing well defensively.
The Tigers allowed only 33 points Saturday in a 61-33 win over Montezuma-Cortez, one day after allowing only 31 points to Durango.
The Tigers have kept their opponents from scoring more than 10 points in six of the past eight quarters played.
“We’re just playing harder and pressuring more,” said Grand Junction guard Tommy Powers. “It’s been helping us score more points and get easy buckets.”
The Tigers’ stingy defense allowed only seven points in the first quarter, and offensive streaks by Powers and Billy Whittenberg lifted Grand Junction to a 30-18 halftime lead.
Powers, who finished with 14 points, had only two in the first quarter, but came out shooting in the second, hitting four shots, including two 3-pointers.
“It was good balanced scoring,” said Grand Junction coach Dutch Johnson. “They were unselfish with the ball and we had good production from the bench.”
Whittenberg, who came off the bench, finished with 13 points, including three 3-pointers.
“He can shoot the ball and he’s a big, physical kid. I just think he needed that breakout game,” Johnson said.
Tyler Winder, who led the Tigers in scoring Friday, finished with two points and sat out the second half on Saturday after being injured in a scrum for the ball.
Cortez was led by Aaron Presnell, who had 11 points. Scheis Anderson added eight.
With 34 seconds left on the clock in a 66-59 loss to Montezuma-Cortez, the Grand Junction girls pulled within four points of the visiting Panthers.
The Tigers had the momentum to possibly take the lead in the closing seconds.
Having already seen a Grand Junction comeback victory earlier in the year, Cortez coach Cameron Watkins didn’t want to see another.
“When they cut that lead from 11 to four, I thought ‘Man, we can’t do this again,’ ” Watkins said.
“I called the timeout and told the ladies we need to play four full quarters.”
The Panthers shut the Tigers out over the final 30 seconds and hit a pair of free throws to seal the victory, their first Southwestern League win this season.
Cortez, up one after the first quarter, took control in the second. Senior Jenna Schaak scored all nine of her points in the quarter.
With her team up by only two, Schaak grabbed two quick steals and converted them into layups, which started a 10-0 run to end the half.
The Grand Junction offense was led by Fawn Brady, who had half of Grand Junction’s first-half points and finished with 26.
Paula Lage was limited to two free throws in the first half but added six points in the second half. Jamie Derrieux had 15 points.
Shelby Janz led Cortez with 30 points and Aeron Acott had 10.