Fantastic 4th quarter helps Fruita girls stay undefeated
Adversity came knocking in the third quarter and Fruita Monument answered. But not before an uneasy few minutes passed.
The Wildcats were struggling. Foul trouble, shots rimming out, a hot-shooting opponent and a nine-point lead gone.
Suddenly trailing 42-41, the Wildcats needed a lift.
Time and time again, Angelique Gall provided that spark.
The junior scored 24 points with key rebounds, putbacks and good post defense to lead Fruita Monument to a 69-50 win over Carbon, Utah, in the finale of the Major Mortgage Wildcat Classic on Saturday.
Both teams came in undefeated and it was the first tight game of the year for Fruita Monument (8-0)
Wildcats coach Michael Wells was happy with the win but not thrilled about the struggles.
“We haven’t really had a game like that this year,” he said. “I think we were a little nervous, and we were atrocious in the first half defensively. And we put we put ourselves in trouble with fouls and against good teams you can’t do that. So we had to battle back from that.”
The game was closer than the final score indicated.
The Dinos (7-1) took their first lead since 2-0 with about 3 minutes to go in the third quarter at 37-36.
But senior Alexis Prall made her third 3-pointer of the game to put Fruita back in front.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats started to pull away. Gall was right in the middle of a quick 8-0 run.
First Gall scored off an assist by Sitori Carver. The next time down, Gall grabbed a loose ball and banked in a basket, then made two free throws to give the Wildcats a 53-44 lead.
Point guard MacKenzie Wells, who had been on the bench for more than five minutes, came back in and promptly snagged a steal and was fouled.
She sank both free throws, then Riley Snyder took over.
The junior finished with 21 points, but was scoreless in the third quarter. She converted a three-point play off a driving layup, then zipped a pass to Carver for a layup. After Snyder broke the Dinos’ press off for another driving layup, the Wildcats were safely up 62-46.
But Gall wasn’t done. She stood her ground under the basket and took two straight charges from Carbon players.
“We came together as a team and decided we needed to set our defense and get more transition buckets,” Gall said about the third-quarter adversity. “We also knew we had to quit fouling, and we needed to start helping each other on defense. Help-side is a big thing for us and helping the helper, and we definitely pulled together today.”
MacKenzie Wells said the early season foul trouble is a little frustrating.
“We’ve been fouling a lot in these early games and we have to figure out how to play better team defense,” she said. “But (fouls) are going to happen, it’s part of the game, and we just have to find a way to fight through that. People came off the bench and really helped today.”
Even with the early struggles, the Wildcats never seemed to be in trouble but the Dinos kept the game close with ball movement and shooting.
It took a while for Fruita to recover from its foul trouble.
Katie Parks hit her lone basket of the day on a slashing drive but she soon joined Wells on the bench, both with four fouls shortly before the Dinos took the lead.
Carbon hit four 3-pointers in the third, including back-to-back shots from Lindsey Blanc and Taylor Passarella to tie the score at 36-36.
In the first quarter, Fruita gave up a number of offensive rebounds and had trouble with the Dinos’ cross-court passing, which led to open jump shots.
But the Wildcats still had the lead, and when Prall nailed back-to-back 3-pointers, the lead was 18-9 at the end of the first quarter.
The third quarter started out well for the Wildcats after Wells sank a 3-pointer and Galls scored six points, the last two off an assist from Wells.
Michael Wells said Gall knows how to create space in the post.
“She knows how to use her body and is a good post player,” the coach said. “She uses her space really well and our guards did a good job finding her too.”