Heart alone not enough for Grand Junction girls

Against Eaglecrest, the Grand Junction girls basketball team did something that will warm every sports fan’s heart.

They didn’t give up.

Monday at Grand Junction High School, the Tigers nearly overcame a 15-point halftime deficit before falling 50-44 to the Raptors.

“It was an exciting game and we learned a lot from it,” Grand Junction senior Lisa
Hughes said. “I am disappointed but proud in the way we came back.”

A combination of missed shots and turnovers put the Tigers in an early hole. After a competitive first quarter, a rough second quarter riddled with turnovers allowed the Raptors to outscore Grand Junction 14-5 and take a commanding 29-14 haltime lead.

“We got rattled and the kids weren’t playing really aggressive,” Tigers coach Sam Provenza said. “You can’t spot a team that many points, especially when you have one half to get through.”

At halftime, Hughes said the Tigers were focused on regaining their defensive composure after falling out of their typical rotation.

“We were figuring out where to push and trying to get some steals,” Hughes said. “(In the second half) getting steals and turnovers pushed our offense.”

The plan worked as Grand Junction went on a 10-5 run to end the third quarter and cut the lead to 42-30.

Grand Junction began the fourth quarter with consecutive 3-pointers by Joei Ritter and Fawn Brady to pull to within six. Grand Junction continued to apply pressure and pulled within three at 43-40 on a Hughes jump shot with a little more than one minute remaining.

In the final minute, the Tigers couldn’t score fast enough as Eaglecrest hit free throws to hand Grand Junction its sixth consecutive loss.

Despite the loss, Provenza was satisfied with the team’s effort in the second half.

“Everyone knew their role in the second half and nobody knew their role in the first half,” Provenza said. “To the kids’ credit, they are still playing hard and that shows in their character. They are trying their best to win ball games.”

C.C. Maxey-Fox led Eaglecrest had 18 points, 14 of which came in the first half. Alyson Cookes added 14.

Hughes led the way with 15 points and Brady added 10 for Grand Junction in a make-up game with the Raptors from earlier this season.

“I think every time we get on the court, we get a little better,” Provenza said. “We want to keep learning and they will continue to be in these types of games, and they now will know how to react, and will win one.”

The Tigers have four games remaining in the regular season,starting Friday with a trip to play Durango. The Tigers play Saturday against Montezuma-Cortez.


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