Hensley lifts Wildcats to win over rival Tigers

Fruita Monument’s Sarah Hensley had one of those games Friday night.

Everything was falling for the junior guard, who dropped 27 points on Grand Junction in the Wildcats’ 46-41 Southwestern League victory at Fruita.

“My coaches told me I have to shoot the ball more to be successful,” Hensley said. “It ended up working for me.”

The Tigers (7-10, 2-3 SWL) and Wildcats (6-8, 2-2 SWL) went back and forth all game, with neither team getting a lead of more than two points until the fourth quarter.

Grand Junction freshman guard Jamie Derrieux relinquished her starting spot and came off the bench, appearing more comfortable in that role.

Derrieux had seven points, and scored four straight early in the fourth quarter, putting the Tigers up 35-32. Hensley answered with two free throws to cut the lead to one.

Hensley’s next three buckets established her as a player who can perform under pressure.

She made 3-pointers on the Wildcats’ next two possessions and followed that with a drive to the basket, pushing Fruita’s lead to 43-35 with less than 1:30 left in the game.

“She is a gifted basketball player who can shoot the basketball and score,” Fruita coach Dan Schmalz said. “There were plays where it got frazzled and she would get the ball and knock it down.”

Hensley made five 3-pointers and was 4 of 4 from the free-throw line for her highest scoring game of her high school career.

“She had 17 against Grand Junction last year, so she can do that all the time, and I wish she would,” Schmalz said. “She is a confident player and I wish she would show up more because she can be a double-digit scorer every game.”

In a game with two teams that were fighting to stay alive in the league race, the Wildcats had just enough to claw to a victory. Mary McGee added seven points and had 16 rebounds.

“You have to win conference games at home,” Schmalz said. “Playing Grand Junction was a huge motivator for the team.”

The Wildcats will try to ride that momentum into tonight’s game against Montrose, which tips off at 5:30 p.m. The Tigers, who got seven points from Fawn Brady, are off until Thursday, when they travel to Montrose.

Grand Junction dropped its third straight SWL game, but coach Sam Provenza was happy.

“That was two teams trying to find themselves,” Provenza said. “We missed some shots early and those are games that are never won or lost at the end.”


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