GJ girls use pressure D to cruise to win
MONTROSE — Like a Tiger toying with its prey, the Grand Junction High School girls basketball team turned the second quarter into play time.
Leading only 12-10 after the first quarter, the Tigers quickly turned the game into a rout with a 21-4 second quarter, easily beating Roosevelt 56-26 on Friday night at the Black Canyon Tournament.
The second quarter was all about teamwork and a pressing defense. The Tigers (8-0) forced 10 turnovers and scored on a bunch of open looks.
Elisha Jahnke scored 10 of her 12 points in the first half and benefited from nice assists from Erika Meister, Tori Catlett and Sarah Wilkinson.
Grand Junction head coach Sam Provenza said the pressure defense had a double benefit.
“Sometimes we do that as much for us as we do it for the turnovers,” he said. “It helps us get our feet moving and playing better.”
Wilkinson, playing the high post, continued to find open teammates, who turned her passes into buckets.
Shafer Rubalcaba scored from in close off a gorgeous assist from Sydni Brandon, then Rubalcaba hit a short jumper off an assist from Wilkinson and the Tigers’ lead was 20-10.
Roosevelt’s defensive plan was obvious from the first tip: Shadow Brandon with tight defense.
The quick and smooth ball-handling Brandon picked her spots, including a tough left-handed layup three-point play after a steal. She hit the basket and the free thrown to put the Tigers up 23-11.
Catlett then scored six straight points. Another Brandon steal and two layups by Brandon and Grand Junction was cruising with a 31-12 lead.
The Tigers came out in the third quarter with the same intensity as the second with Jahnke forcing a turnover and scoring a layup to open the quarter.
The next time down the floor, Brandon made a pretty lob pass to Catlett for another basket.
The lead grew to 45-16 when Meister snapped a quick pass to an open Wilkinson for an easy basket.
Grand Junction finished the third with a 50-17 lead.
Provenza said he expects Brandon to face that kind of defensive pressure throughout the season.
“I thought she handled it well tonight,” he said.
Catlett finished with 14 points and nine different players scored for the Tigers. Rubalcaba added eight.
The Tigers will shift tournaments today when they travel to Palisade to face the Bulldogs. Grand Junction picked up the game after the Montezuma-Cortez girls team pulled out of the Palisade tournament.