Here’s to you, Mr. Robinson
GJ guard too much for Rams
Broderick Robinson, time and time again, rose above a group of players Saturday to grab offensive rebounds.
It didn’t matter if he had a put-back layup, inches away from a dunk, or simply gathered the ball and reset the offense. Robinson was unstoppable.
The senior guard scored 31 points and pulled down 15 rebounds, eight on the offensive glass, to lift the fourth-seeded Grand Junction High School boys basketball team to a 67-56 win over No. 12 Rampart to advance to the Sweet 16 of the Class 5A playoffs. Both his scoring and offensive rebounding totals are season highs.
“Coach (Dutch Johnson) was telling us ‘two back, three crash’ all week in practice and that he really wanted me the crash the boards,” Robinson said. “They didn’t put a body on me, so it turned into a big advantage for us.”
It wasn’t the only advantage Robinson had.
During the first quarter, the Rams didn’t seem have a plan to stop Robinson. He hit three straight 3-pointers and finished with 15 points in the first quarter before Rampart started face-guarding Robinson and using a box-and-one defense against him.
After that, Robinson ramped up his effort on the offensive boards to create second-chance opportunities.
“I don’t know ... you really have to know about (Broderick),” Johnson said. “I mean, they started face-guarding him, and you know, he did start strong for us. He was able to get a lead for us at halftime, thank God, because we didn’t play very well with the lead in the second half.
“Part of that was my fault, but good thing he had that big first half to give us a lead there.”
Outside of Robinson, the Tigers had a poor shooting day. The rest of the team finished only 3 of 14 on 3-pointers, and shot 30 percent from the field.
But although they struggled shooting, senior guard Trenton Soriano said ball control allowed the Tigers to maintain a lead.
“The guards got together and talked about hanging on to the ball, and coach said that they’re a scrappy team and they’re going to come out and trap,” Soriano said. “It was a matter of being strong with the ball and all the guards knew that. They had to be strong with the ball and make sure another guy was coming up to help out.
“We haven’t had a whole lot of pressure this season. I don’t think there’s been a point where we’ve said ‘ugh, we need to get this off our shoulders.’ We just come out and play our game, every game, and we try to play loose as we can.”
Soriano finished with 16 points.
The majority of the Tigers’ nine turnovers came in the fourth quarter. Johnson said a miscommunication late in the game allowed Rampart to claw its way back.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Tigers led 55-42. With 1:04 left to play, the Rams had cut the deficit to four points.
“Partly it’s my fault because we did have a big lead in the fourth quarter and I felt like we were taking too many early jump shots,” Johnson said. “I was trying to get us to slow down and run some offense and I think they took that as me not wanting them to shoot the ball.
“And they started trapping and pressuring the ball. ... I felt like we did an OK job handling the ball. When teams are down and have nothing to lose, they’re going to fly around and trap and I think we did a good enough job to hold on to the lead.
“Part of it was I think we stopped getting aggressive. I think we had a couple opportunities that we passed up to kill clock on the perimeter.”
Grand Junction advances to face top-seeded Denver East. The Angels are led by University of Colorado commit and Class 5A’s top scorer, Dominic Collier, who averages 23.7 points per game.
Denver East (20-4) has yet to lose in Colorado, dropping games only at the City of Palms Classic in Florida and nonleague games against Northside Christian Academy (N.C.) and Omaha (Neb.) Central.
Robinson is the sixth-leading scorer (20.9 per game) in Class 5A, and this will be the first time Robinson and Collier have met on the court, having never matched up in the AAU circuit.
“We have to play hard and out-hustle them defensively,” Robinson said of the Angels. “They’re obviously a great team with all their D-I guys. Going up against Collier is a great opportunity for me and our team to see where we stack up against that kind of competition.”
The Angels have had close games against middle-of-the-road Colorado teams.
Cherry Creek, a six-seed in the Class 5A playoffs, lost by only three points. No. 2 Eaglecrest, No. 6 ThunderRidge and Class 4A playoff contender Denver South have all lost by 10 points or fewer.
“You have to play one of your best games to beat them,” Johnson said. “They just have such dynamic, such Division I-caliber players. You’ve gotta be good with the ball and it’s probably one of those situations where you have to shrink the game a little bit and try to limit the amount of possessions they have.
“It’s been a situation all year where we’ve been faster and more athletic than the teams we have faced and that’s simply not how it is here. I don’t think we’re going to out-run them on Wednesday, we’re going to need to guard and rebound the best we can, and not turn this into a track meet.”