Grand Junction High School boys struggle to find their shooting touch

Oh, those shooting woes.

For the third game this season, the Grand Junction High School boys basketball team struggled to find its shooting touch.

In the second half, that came back to haunt the Tiger (0-3) as they lost to Bear Creek 52-38 in the second round of the Warrior Challenge at Central High School.

What Bear Creek coach Steve Hyatt chose to do was switch from a man-to-man defense to a zone.

“I think that was the key,” Hyatt said. “We went through their screens (to defend the perimeter).”

The 2-3 zone worked on two counts.

First, it allowed two of his starters, Preston Rayburn and Dujuan Mack, who were each relegated to the bench with three fouls in the second quarter, to stay in the game.

Second, it forced the Tigers to try to beat the Bears from the perimeter.

Grand Junction had one thing going for it in the first half. The Bears were struggling from the field as much as the Tigers were. More, in fact, hitting only six of 25 shots.

With Justin Trujillo scoring six points in each quarter, Grand Junction took a 22-15 halftime lead.

“I thought we played a great first half,” Grand Junction coach Dutch Johnson said.

The Bears came out a different team in the second half. The zone forced turnovers and missed shots and kept Rayburn and Mack from picking up their fourth fouls.

Bear Creek went on a 13-2 run to open the third, Rayburn and Mack doing most of the damage offensively.

Grand Junction, meanwhile, hit only one of nine field goals in the third quarter to trail
30-26.

“Just like (Thursday) night, we couldn’t play against the zone,” Johnson said.

Hyatt knew that if his team could hold down the Tiger offense, his team would make a run.

“Our defense is our offense,” he said.

Rayburn finished with a game-high 22 points and also hurt the Tigers underneath with eight rebounds. Mack scored 12 points and matched Rayburn’s rebound total.

Geoff Baldwin scored nine points in the second half to pace Grand Junction with 16 points and had a team-high six rebounds, four on the offensive end. Trujillo finished with 15 points.

Johnson, whose team is still two players short during the first week because of disciplinary reasons, said the Tigers have to figure out a way to attack defensive zones.

“If we keep playing like that, we’re going to see a lot of zone (this season),” he said.

The Tigers seek their first win in the tourney finale at 3:15 p.m. today against Douglas
County.


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