Defensive pressure helps Central rout Grand Junction

Grand Junction’s Stephanie Drake has nowhere to pass the ball Tuesday as Central’s Haleigh Higgins, right, and Karen Hayter, back, box her in during the Warriors’ 62-26 victory over the Tigers.

Something clicked when the Central High School girls basketball team started Southwestern League play.

The Warriors (10-6, 4-0 SWL) won their fourth straight SWL game by more than 20 points, dominating Grand Junction (7-9, 2-2 SWL) Tuesday night 62-26.

“We haven’t wanted to change anything,” Central’s Amy Kame said. “We came out with a lot of intensity against Durango and we have wanted to build off that.”

What has become the Warriors’ calling card is a tenacious pressure defense. Central didn’t waste any time forcing its defensive will on the Tigers, jumping to a 13-2 first-quarter lead and holding Grand Junction to 0-for-7 shooting.

“We play a high pressure game where if you make a mistake, we are going to burn you,” Central coach Todd Dixon said. “These last five games we have played very well and keep getting better. I like where we are at.”

Grand Junction had trouble breaking Central’s defensive pressure the entire first half. With less than a minute remaining in the second quarter, the Tigers went on a scoring burst, getting a layup from Stephanie Drake and a 3-pointer from Fawn Brady to make it 27-11 at the half.

“It is tough to win a ballgame with not that many points on the board,” Grand Junction coach Sam Provenza said. “We were pretty good with our half-court defense, but we got into some bad spots on the floor and turnovers tuned into easy baskets for them.”

Grand Junction had 17 turnovers in the first half and finished with 30 in the game. The Tigers also had another tough night shooting , making only 10 of 38 shots.

“We didn’t do things right offensively,” Provenza said. “We spend 16 minutes looking real confused offensively.”

Lisa Hughes was the leading scorer for the Tigers with 10 points. Drake added seven.

The Warriors rolled in the second half, outscoring Grand Junction 35-15. Dixon said he was happy to see his team’s aggression still high when it had a large lead.

“I think when we were up by 20, we were still scrapping as hard as anyone,” Dixon said. “I didn’t see much of a letdown mentally all game.”

For Central it was another game with a combined effort on both ends of the floor. Amy Kame finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and five steals, another of her complete games of the season. What has allowed Kame a little bit more room during league play has been the additional scoring of Stacy Kinnett and Haleigh Higgins. Higgins had 14 points and six rebounds and Kinnett finished with 10 points.

“We are getting other people involved,” Dixon said. “Any time we have two or three people in double digits, that is the key to our success.”

The Tigers will try to bounce back after two straight tough losses Friday against Fruita Monument. Central will have its biggest test of the season when it travels to Montrose.

“We feel like we are the defending SWL champs and people will have to come through us,” Dixon said. “It will be a good matchup and a look at two very good teams.”


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