Fair’s big 2nd half lifts Fruita to win
Once the Fruita Monument High School girls basketball team shook off the rust of the season opener, it was smooth sailing.
Led by Kassidy Fair’s 20 points, the Wildcats got rolling in the second half Tuesday night to beat Rifle 37-23 at Brownson Arena.
For Fruita Monument first-year head coach Michael Wells, the second half was a relief after watching a rather painful opening half.
“I learned a long time ago to never disrespect the W, so we’ll take it,” he said. “We now have something to build off of.”
Fair, a 5-foot-11 senior, took over offensively in the second half for the Wildcats.
She scored five straight points to end the third quarter, including a steal and drive, then added a putback to give the Wildcats a 22-15 lead.
Two free throws by Mariah Love pushed the lead to 24-15 to start the fourth, then Fair went to work in the paint. Two offensive rebounds led to two free throws. Then she was fouled twice more and made four straight from the line to put the Wildcats up 30-20 late in the fourth.
Wells, who was an assistant for the Colorado Mesa University women’s team the past four years, has only been on the job for about two months.
“We don’t have our whole offense in yet,” Wells said. “I want us to create opportunities with our defense to create buckets on offense.”
Several times in the second half, that’s exactly what the Wildcats did.
Taylor Eatwell hit a basket, then Fair created a turnover and made a nifty pass to Eatwell, who was slicing down the lane for another two points late in the game.
“I just had the mindset that I wanted to come out and win this game,” Fair said.
Fruita Monument’s size gave Rifle trouble in the second half.
Eatwell, a 5-11 junior, ended with nine points, all in the paint.
Rifle’s Chante Church scored 13 for the Bears but the senior struggled from the free-throw line making only seven of 16 attempts.
Overall, neither team shot well from the line, with the Bears hitting only 13 of 28 and the Wildcats hitting 13 of 24.
Fair was solid with her free throws, hitting 10 of 14, including making seven of 10 in the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats outscored the Bears 27-13 in the second half.
The game was a rough start for both teams with the first-game-of-the-season rust and jitters obvious on both sides.
Rifle’s match-up zone defense was giving the Wildcats trouble.
Church scored six straight points to give the Bears a 10-8 lead late in the second quarter. But Fair drained a pair of free throws to tie the game going into halftime.
“I was happy with the adjustments we made at halftime. I told (my players) that whoever won the first three or four minutes of the third quarter would probably win the game,” Wells said.
Fruita Monument used a 7-2 run to open the third and limited the Bears to only five points in the quarter.