GJ finds enough intensity to win

Grand Junction High School’s Geoff Baldwin takes to the air as he tries a shot over a group of Douglas County defenders during the final game of the Warrior Challenge basketball tournament at Central High School.

Is it too early for the Grand Junction boys basketball team to be at a crossroads?

The Tigers finished the Warrior Challenge 2-1 by defeating Douglas County 52-34 on Saturday at Central High School.

The weekend puts Grand Junction’s record at 2-2 on the season, which so far has been marked by moments where the Tigers have looked unstoppable, but also moments where the team hasn’t meshed very well.

“We need to get our intensity back up where we were last year,” Grand Junction’s Geoff Baldwin said, “because right now we are nowhere near it.”

Although it was still a double-digit win for the Tigers, coach Dutch Johnson remarked on the Tigers’ down moments during the game with the Huskies.

“I think we learned we have to come ready to play every game, no matter what time it is and no matter who we are playing,” Johnson said. “This was a hard game to get up for and once we start league we will be playing games at Cortez and Durango on a Saturday at noon, so we need to be ready to play no matter who it is or when it is.”

The Tigers’ past success is one reason Johnson has high expectations for this group.

But with top returning scorer Everett Robinson suspended for the first four games, the Tigers have had to look more toward Baldwin for scoring.

The 6-foot-5 post player came through again, scoring 17 points, matching his season average.

Baldwin was the only Tiger selected to the all-tournament team.

“Geoff played well all weekend and we are going to need him to keep playing like he is,” Johnson said. “We have to get him touches even when Everett comes back. It doesn’t always look good, but he finds a way to get it in.”

Behind Baldwin’s 13 first-half points, the Tigers led 29-24 at halftime and used a more concerted defensive effort in the second half to hold the Huskies to 10 second-half points and close out the game.

Tommy Powers and Tyler Winder each had nine points for the Tigers.

“A guy that went unnoticed that did a lot of little things for us was Tommy Powers,” Johnson said. “I thought he played well.”

Brenton Hill was the Huskies’ leading scorer with 15 points.

“I thought we improved in areas throughout the weekend, but there are some areas we definitely need to improve on,” Johnson said.

“We didn’t rebound defensively and that is something we will have to touch on.”

The Tigers got a strong rebounding effort from Matt Wilkinson against the Huskies, with the 6-5 post player finishing with 15 rebounds and six points.

“These last two games Matt has been much more aggressive on the boards,” Johnson said.

“Of those 15 rebounds, seven or eight were on the offensive end, which is huge, because he is the only one doing that right now.”

The Tigers host Uintah, Utah, on Tuesday.


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