Fruita Monument girls halt decade of playoff losses

The Fruita Monument High School girls basketball team was tired of losing in the playoffs and ready to make history.

The Wildcats hadn’t won a first-round game in 10 years entering Wednesday night’s Class 5A playoff game at Rocky Mountain.

That streak ended with a 60-55 victory over the Lobos (13-11) in the Sharon Wilch Region.

“It’s great, such a big win,” said coach Dan Schmalz, in his third season at Fruita. “We played together and shared the ball.”

It didn’t come easy for the Wildcats (11-13) after taking a 15-8 first-quarter lead. Fueled by the home crowd, the eighth-seeded Lobos outscored Fruita 23-6 in the second quarter to lead 31-21 at halftime.

Despite the rough second quarter and being on the road, Schmalz said the ninth-seeded Wildcats didn’t feel defeated.

“We knew at half that they weren’t that much better than us,” Schmalz said. “We just had to come out and play hard.”

The Wildcats did that, scoring the first seven points of the second half to cut the lead to 31-28. Fruita continued its hot shooting and took 40-37 lead into the fourth quarter.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” Schmalz said. “But we played a much better second half.”

Fruita’s unselfish play allowed three players to score in double figures. Sarah Hensley hit four 3-pointers and finished with 18 points. Taylor Johnson scored 16 points and Stephanie Long added 10.

The playoff path doesn’t get any easier, as the Wildcats advance to the second round Saturday against the No. 1 seed, Highlands Ranch (20-3).

The time of Saturday’s game is still to be determined.

“We are excited to move on,” Schmalz said. “We have to play someone.”

Mountain Range (13-11) upset No. 7 Mountain Vista 44-33 in the first round and advances to play second-seeded Central (20-3), tentatively scheduled for 5 p.m. on Saturday at Central.


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