Heinsma lifts Celtics to AAU title win
Tyler Heinsma isn’t the tallest player on the Grand Junction Celtics basketball team but on Monday, he took charge in the paint.
Playing in the Mesa County Junior Basketball Association 7th and 8th grade championship game at Grand Junction High School, Heinsma was able to get rebounds, steals and score crucial points in the second half to help his team beat the Central Jazz 59-42.
“After the first half, we got really fired up,” Heinsma said.
The Celtics, who were losing by one point at halftime, ended up relying on Heinsma and guard Broderick Robinson, who Heinsma credits for most of his success down low.
“Broderick’s really good, so if you just find an open spot, he’s going to get it to you,” Heinsma said.
After the second half, the Jazz struggled shooting and were limited to two points in the third quarter. The Celtics, meanwhile, put up 14 points in the third, with many of them coming from Heinsma.
“He’s one of those high-energy kids who’s always going, and when he gets on a roll, he’s really tough to stop,” Celtics coach Rick Eccher said.
After finishing the third quarter down 11, the Jazz weren’t able to make up the lost points.
“We just came out flat,” Jazz coach Mike Champlin said about the third quarter.
“We brought it up in the start of the fourth period, but it was a little too late.”
At the beginning of the game, though, the Jazz were able to hold their own.
After scoring the first two points of the game, the Jazz added three points from Levi Hoaglund and a free throw by Michael Price to take an early 6-3 lead.
Robinson then caught fire for the Celtics, hitting a three to tie the game. He then scored five of the team’s next eight points, including taking a steal across the court for a layup.
“He makes plays every game. He’s been doing that all year for us,” Eccher said.
The Jazz then had a nine-point run to end the first quarter, which was capped by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Hoaglund.
In the second quarter the Celtics were able to come back and matched every point the Jazz scored. With 5.7 seconds left in the half, Austin Terry hit a free throw to give the Jazz a 30-29 lead.
Robinson led the Celtics with 16 points and Heinsma had 13. Price led the Jazz with 11 points and Hoagland had eight.
The game finished a perfect league season for the Celtics, who went 12-0 in the regular season and 3-0 in the tournament.
“It feels good,” Robinson said. “Last year we took third but we came all the way this year and won the championship.”