Finding his shot

Eccher finally dials in 3-point shot in Tigers' big victory

Grand Junction’s Trenton Soriano splits the defense of Central’s Jeremy Champlin, left, and Trey Garcia, 3, to score two of his seven points Tuesday night in the Tigers’
87-41 victory. Grand Junction made nine 3-pointers in the win.

Greg Eccher isn’t lacking for confidence in his jump shot, but his ability to shoot from deep has been inconsistent.

Tuesday, the senior saved his best shooting performance for his final regular-season home game, hitting a career-high five 3-pointers and scoring a career-high 17 points to help lead Grand Junction, Class 5A’s sixth-ranked boys basketball team, to an 87-41 drubbing of Southwestern League rival Central.

After the Warriors (6-17, 1-9 SWL) hung around, down 10-5 with 4:16 left in the first quarter, Eccher hit a 3-pointer that sparked a 9-0 run for the Tigers (19-2, 9-0 SWL). In a span of 45 seconds, Eccher hit two 3-pointers and Broderick Robinson added one, and by the end of the first quarter Grand Junction led 27-12.

Eccher said it was the best he’s felt this year.

“Definitely the best I’ve shot the ball this season,” Eccher said. “I felt like I could have shot this way all year, but it all came out today, which is kind of nice with senior night. All of (the seniors), we play really hard, and we’re together in the offseason and everything. I’d guess it’s the tightest group of seniors we’ve had. It’s fun to play with them, for sure.”

Eccher added his offense was fed by transition defense.

“When we get going in transition, we all start feeling it,” Eccher said. “We can just score a bunch of points and build a lead. It’s nice to play ahead.”

Robinson led all scorers with 20 points, outdueling Central’s Trey Fair, who finished with 16 points. Robinson added two 3-pointers to the Tiger’s total of nine. 

Tigers coach Dutch Johnson said 87 points is indicative of the Tigers’ depth, adding he thinks they’re peaking at the right time.
“They’re sharing the ball well, everyone is hitting their shots, and I think we’re really starting to play well as a group,” Johnson said. “I think a big part of that is finding that rhythm on offense and finding those opportunities in transition, because we score more points that way. I think our defense is leading to the offense, like it has all year, and I think we just shared the ball and shot the ball really well tonight.”

When Central coach Ryan Hayden sat Fair to keep him out of foul trouble at different points during the first half, Grand Junction big man D.J. Wells took advantage. Wells finished with 10 points, including a sealing move that led to a powerful two-handed slam dunk.

“They started a little small, so we made sure that we got him touches down low,” Johnson said. “He did a good job being aggressive and finishing or finding that open shooter or cutter.”

The Tigers’ win over Central sets up a game at Fruita Monument with added incentive beyond the normal rivalry game. If Grand Junction wins, it will be the first time since the 2007-08 season the Tigers have won 20 games. At 20-2, a win over Fruita Monument would also mean a higher postseason seed for the Tigers.

Grand Junction is ranked sixth in the Associated Press Colorado Prep Basketball poll, 10th in the poll and 16th in the MaxPreps Class 5A power rankings.

Eccher said Grand Junction’s 41-37 road loss to Fruita Monument last season has the Tigers out for revenge.

“You always get the best when you play Fruita,” Eccher said. “So that’s going to be a good game. Especially when we lost last year at their place, it will be fun to see what will happen this year. We’re going to come out strong. A win will definitely help us for seeding in the postseason, and that will be nice.”


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