Grand Junction knows what to expect from Columbine

While some schools venture into the Class 5A playoffs embarking on uncharted territory, Grand Junction knows exactly what to expect from Columbine.

In early December, the teams met at the Wildcat Invitational, where the inexperienced Tigers lost 70-50 in the third game of the season.

The teams play again at 6 tonight at Columbine.

Grand Junction trailed by 16 points at halftime but was able to cut the Rebels’ lead to 44-34 heading into the fourth quarter.

“I watched that game film twice (Monday),” Tigers coach Sam Provenza said. “I watched what they did and they are well-schooled. They do a lot of things on the floor so you have to adjust to what they are doing.”

Provenza concentrated solely on the Rebels’ press defense and variety of offensive sets while watching the film. The Tigers’ coach didn’t even bother to look much at his own team.

“This is like a totally different season,” Provenza said. “We aren’t even running the same stuff as we did the first time we played them.”

The key tonight is hoping the Jeffco League team is assuming it will see a Tigers team that is similar to the first time around.

That’s not the case. The timid and raw Tigers are gone, replaced by a group that battles to the bitter end. The Tigers’  final six games were decided by less than 10 points, including a 48-47 overtime win over Fruita Monument that helped the Tigers get into the postseason.

“We are excited for the rematch,”  Grand Junction post player Lisa Hughes said. “I don’t think Columbine will even recognize us, we have come so far and all the players have grown up so much.”

The Tigers’ leading scorer, Fawn Brady, is one of the players who has matured over the season. After being slowed by an ankle injury during the middle of the season, Brady has looked strong down the stretch, averaging 16.2 points over the final four games against Durango, Montezuma-Cortez, Central and Fruita Monument.

Sophomore Stephanie Drake, whose lightning-quick speed helped her break into the starting lineup, and freshman Jamie Derrieux, who has gotten more aggressive as the season has progressed, helped the Tigers mature.

Paula Lage, Hughes and Emily Dohm all have continued to improve over the season.

“This is especially exciting for these guys because they know where they have been,” Provenza said. “I think they realize where they are and they feel confident in their abilities as a team, so hopefully that carries over to next year. But I hope it carries over to next week as well.”

If the Tigers win, they play Friday at Air Academy.

Learning from the last game against the Rebels, Grand Junction will have to contain a Columbine team with a couple of different options, beginning with senior and leading scorer Randee Hayes. The center went for 18 point in the first matchup and is averaging 17.3 points per game this season.

Demitra Apergis is averaging 14 points per game.

Hayes is one of the Rebels’ taller starters at 6 feet, and is a good rebounder. Provenza said the Tigers will focus on keeping them off the boards.

“They aren’t overly big but they rebound really well,” Provenza said. “So we are going to have to box out.”


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