GJ goes from defense to offense

Tigers use pressure to get on track, beat Dinos

Sydni Brandon of Grand Junction brings the ball up the court Friday night against Carbon County in the Wildcat Invitational.

Sam Provenza had hopes of having a run-and-gun, full-court-press team this year.

Because of injuries to Briana Baldwin and Kylie Burns, the Grand Junction High School girls basketball coach doesn’t have enough guards to be the team he envisioned this season.

That doesn’t mean the Tigers can’t have another successful year, though.

“The young kids played,” Provenza said. “We thought we were going to be this full-court press and run up and down the floor because we have all this bench. Now, we’re asking Shafer (Rubalcaba) to play some inside and outside.

“Elisha (Jahnke) will go inside sometimes, but they are adjusting to it.”

Baldwin had shoulder surgery and Burns had hip surgery, and each is out for the season.

Grand Junction (5-0) used the press to create some offense Friday and pulled away to defeat Carbon County (Utah) 
39-27 in the Wildcat Invitational at Fruita Monument High School.

“That’s a grinder of a game,” Provenza said. “That Carbon team will get after you. Every time we play them in this tournament, it’s been that way.”

Carbon County has come to the Wildcat Invitational every year since it started.

Shafer Rubalcaba led the Tigers (5-0) with 10 points. Sydni Brandon scored nine.

“It’s so nice to have a lot of core people we didn’t lose from last year,” Rubalcaba said. “We have a lot of depth, speed and height. We can take last year and build on this year.”

Katie Basinger led the Dinos with nine points. Shelby Cornforth and Jaylie Jensen scored eight.

Carbon hung with the Tigers in the first half, trailing 16-11 at halftime.

“They were really packed in there tight,” Provenza said. “They were daring us to shoot the ball from the perimeter. I think our kids got hesitant, and we tightened up.

“The second half we got the ball inside a lot more.”

The Tigers created their offense with the pressure defense, going on a 14-4 run in the third quarter for a 30-18 lead by the end of the quarter.

“We were putting some pressure on them and made them get disorganized,” Provenza said. “They were doing some good things against it, but I think more than anything it gave us some confidence on the offensive end.”

Rubalcaba scored six of her 10 points in the quarter.

“We’d like to play the first half like the second half,” Rubalcaba said. “During halftime, Coach always tells us what we need to work on, and we go out and try to orchestrate what Coach tells us to do.”

The Tigers played better defense in the second half, limiting Carbon’s second-chance opportunities. The Dinos had six second-chance opportunities in the first half but only two in the second half.

“We didn’t allow as many second shots in the second half as we did in the first half. That’s what we talked about at halftime. If we cut back on the second opportunities, we’ll win the game,” Provenza said.

“That’s what’s so great about these guys. They don’t have to analyze it and reanalyze it. They understand it and will do what you ask.

“It’s cool to watch.”

Air Academy 38, Delta 17: The Panthers couldn’t handle Air Academy’s post player Kassady Huffman, who scored nearly half the Kadets’ points in their Wildcat Invitational game.

Huffman led Air Academy with 18 points. She had 12 in the first half.

Shelby Curtis led Delta with six points.

The Kadets broke open the game in the second quarter, outscoring Delta 13-2 for a 24-6 halftime lead.


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