Good second effort: Fruita’s solid 2nd half lifts Wildcats past Warriors
The Fruita Monument High School boys basketball team has made a habit of putting teams away quickly during its nine-game winning streak.
Friday night at Central, that wasn’t the case.
The Warriors (1-15, 0-5 Southwestern League) stayed with the Wildcats in the first half, trailing 18-16 at halftime.
“We wanted to play good defense and limit their second-chance points,” Central coach Phil Cain said. “It was a two-point game at halftime, and we were excited and had good energy.”
Fruita Monument (11-6, 5-0 SWL) took control with a big third quarter to top the Warriors 54-42.
“Central had a great game plan and did a great job,” Fruita Monument coach Dave Fox said. “Give their coaches a lot of credit, they came out and took a lot of things away from us.”
Early on, it appeared to be another Wildcats runaway as Fruita jumped to a 12-4 first quarter lead. Central clawed its way back — led by Taylor Sanchez’s aggressive play on both ends.
“We didn’t build on the 12-4 lead and that was a curse,” Fox said. “Plus, Sanchez was a force in the first half.”
Sanchez had three points, three steals and three assists in the first half. The junior guard’s active play helped set up other players for open looks. Angel Galindo hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 16-16 with 2:30 left in the second quarter.
After a shaky first half, Fox emphasized intensity at halftime.
“The pregame theme was playing with energy physically and mentally and we didn’t have either,” Fox said.
Early in the second half, the Wildcats picked up the intensity when Alex Padgett nailed an open 3-pointer to push the lead to 23-18. Padgett hit another 3-pointer a few possessions later to push the Wildcats’ lead to 30-21.
“We came out and thought we were going to roll over Central,” Padgett said. “We didn’t have the intensity.”
Padgett’s long-distance shots opened up the lane for Drew Bridges. Bridges had eight points in the third quarter as Fruita pushed its lead to 41-24 heading into the fourth quarter.
“Alex got loose and made some shots,” Fox said. “We had been coming out on fire, but you are bound to have a game where you don’t play your best. That’s something we’ll learn from.”
Padgett finished with 11 points, with the two 3s in the third quarter proved to be the difference.
“That got us going, it jump-started us,” Padgett said. “It was good for me personally because it gave me some confidence.”
Bridges led the Wildcats with 18 points, including 14 in the second half.
Central was disappointed with the end result, but knew it had lot to build from. The Warriors were without starters Edward Becoat and Trent Coleman, and got spirted efforts from freshman Trey Fair and senior Scott Brennan.
“We battled,” Cain said. “I’m proud of the guys, and it was fun.”