Four Corners teams tough to gauge in basketball
In the Southwestern League, the high school basketball teams from Grand Junction, Central, Fruita Monument and Montrose are all pretty familiar with each other.
The close proximity between the four schools allows for plenty of opportunities when it comes to scouting and game planning.
Then there are the great unknowns.
Located in the Four Corners area of the state are the two remaining teams of the SWL in Montezuma-Cortez and Durango.
This weekend, the two teams will make the more than 300-mile roundtrip into the Grand Valley to play Central and Fruita Monument.
“It’s tough because they don’t play anyone around us,” Fruita Monument girls basketball coach Dan Schmalz said. “You almost have to base it on what they had last year.”
Both Cortez and Durango fill a majority of their non-league schedule with teams from New Mexico.
“They are hard to gauge,” Central coach Todd Dixon said. “They have played a lot of teams from out of state, and nobody really knows much about them.”
Most of the information the coaches use is from online statistics and film from previous seasons. But with constant player turnover, sometimes it can be hard to get a good feel for the two teams.
On the girls side, Durango is 8-5, but has a new coach and lost its best player from last season, Katerina Garcia. With the dynamic point guard gone, the Demons have resorted to more of an inside-outside game with post player Neely Surmeier. The new look has posted good results, as last weekend the Demons opened up conference play by splitting at home. The Demons lost to Montrose 46-43 and beat Grand Junction 56-54.
“They ran a high-low game that was pretty decent,” Grand Junction girls coach Sam Provenza said. “They have good size and got a lot of second shots against us.”
Cortez got swept last weekend by Montrose and Grand Junction, but also is 8-5 this season. The Panthers are led by twins Keeley and Kelia Yanito, who both average more than 11 points per game.
“They were pretty quick and will shoot it from anywhere,” Provenza said. “They aren’t very big, but they’re pretty quick, and I felt like they were a better team than Durango.”
On the boys side, both Durango and Cortez have struggled. The Demons enter this weekend 5-7 after getting swept by Montrose and Grand Junction. Cortez is 4-10 heading into its game tonight with Pagosa Springs. Last weekend, the Panthers lost by double-digits to the Tigers and Indians.
“Cortez gave us a lot of different looks defensively,” Grand Junction coach Dutch Johnson said. “Durango is fast, they have a lot of team speed and apply a lot of pressure.”
Central hosts Cortez and Fruita Monument plays Durango on Friday.
Central’s Amy Kame has always been a dynamic scorer. In her senior season, she hasn’t relinquished that role and is averaging 23.4 points per game. It’s easy to say that Kame’s offensive success is correlated to the Warriors’ wins and losses, as Kame has scored more than 40 percent of the Warriors’ total points this season.
On the boys side in the Grand Valley, one of the most consistent scorers has been Palisade’s Jeremy Hayden. The 6-foot-2 senior leads the Bulldogs with 19.2 points per game. Hayden is a versatile scorer who has the ability to rack up points with a good outside shot and can also finish well around the hoop.
Plenty of high school wrestling teams will be in action in the Grand Valley during the next few days. Palisade has a home dual at 7 tonight against Delta. Central faces Grand Junction at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Montrose at Fruita Monument meet each other at 7 p.m. Thursday.