Fast start puts GJ boys in title game
PARKER — It was a good thing the Grand Junction High School boys basketball team had a strong first half Friday.
The Tigers needed it to carry them through the final 16 minutes.
Grand Junction built a 20-point lead by halftime, then held off a valiant Vista Peak effort in the final two quarters to advance to this afternoon’s title game in the Ponderosa Invitational with a 54-44 victory.
As they did in Thursday’s tournament-opening victory over Pueblo Central, the Tigers (5-0) jumped on the opponent quickly, outscoring the Bison 11-0 in the first 5 ½ minutes.
That was on the strength of working the ball down low to DJ Wells for a couple of easy put-ins, thus opening up the outside shot.
That allowed perimeter players Broderick Robinson, Trenton Soriano, Stockton Rock and Greg Eccher to ply their trade from the outside. By halftime, Grand Junction had built a 32-12 advantage.
“It’s definitely us getting out and getting ahead (early),” Eccher said of the Tigers’ goal of grabbing the early lead this season.
Vista Peak, a fourth-year school, benched a couple of starters in the second half and went with more of a pressure style, which caused some problems for the normally collected Tigers backcourt.
After committing only seven turnovers in the first half, Grand Junction gave it away 14 times in the second, allowing the Bison to pull within five points before hitting eight of 10 free throws down the stretch to secure the victory.
“They came out in the second half with nothing to lose, and we panicked,” Tigers coach Dutch Johnson said, giving credit to Vista Peak. “We just didn’t handle the pressure.”
“I think we get complacent,” Eccher said. “We’ll learn that.”
They get a big opportunity this afternoon in the title game against host Ponderosa, which features a 6-10 post player and a 6-4 wing.
“They’ve got some size,” Johnson said of the Mustangs. “Obviously 6-10 is going to grab some attention.”
Chaparral 87, Fruita Monument 45: The Wolverines began with a 14-0 run and never trailed. They also shredded Fruita’s press to win the Columbine Classic game.
“We got off to a slow start and didn’t really find our rhythm early,” Wildcats coach Billy Dreher said. “We missed shots at the rim, and we had a lot of turnovers early. I don’t think that, defensively, our press was as effective as it’s been against some of the other teams we faced. They used their length to pass over our traps, and their size became a little much for us to handle.”
Jake Holtzmann, a 6-foot-6 forward for Chaparral, hit four 3-pointers and scored 27 points.
Tyrelle Peterson led Fruita with eight points.
Windsor 69, Central 49: Tyler Talkington and Giles Woolsey each scored eight points for Central, which lost its second-round game in the Windsor Invitational.
Hotchkiss led 22-8 at halftime and cruised to a 38-24 win over Plateau Valley.
Natalie Anderson led Hotchkiss with 12 points and Sarah Fox led the Cowboys with seven.