In her honor

Fruita Monument's Crites battling after mom loses fight with cancer

Fruita Monument’s Tanner Crites rises to the basket Monday night during the Wildcats’ 50-31 win against Montrezuma-Cortez.

Starting the basketball season wasn’t easy for Tanner Crites.

In October, only weeks before he was set to begin his junior basketball season at Fruita Monument High School, Crites lost his mother, Monica, to cancer.

“Basketball felt different to me but I knew if I hung in there, just played for her, and thought about her wanting me to play. ...” Crites said. “It really just motivated me.”

Crites kept with the team, and on Monday night, the Wildcats memorialized Monica before their 50-31 victory over Montezuma-Cortez.

Before the game, the crowd had a moment of applause in Monica’s memory, rather than a moment of silence. The crowd in attendance gave a standing ovation, applauding Tanner for the length of the game.

Crites took in the emotion of the moment, using it as motivation.

“Tonight when everyone did that, it got me really motivated and I just went out there and played my heart out,” Crites said.

The motivation showed in his play, as he finished with a season-high 10 points.

“That was all for her,” Crites said.

“She was my biggest fan. She was always at every game, so when I lost her, it was hard, but it just makes me have something to play for.”

Although the pain of the loss is something the Crites family still deals with, Crites was helped out by his team, who showed up to Monica’s funeral as a sign of support for their teammate.

“It’s been hard, but my whole team has helped me through it,” Crites said.

“I think anytime you go through what the family has gone through, it’s really hard to relate to what they’re dealing with,” Fruita Monument coach Dave Fox said.

“I think Tanner knows that he’s got a basketball family who supports him and we’re behind him. I don’t know if there’s any time you say the right thing to him, but you just want to try to make sure he knows we care about him and if he ever needs to talk we are there for him.”

On the court though, Crites says a prayer and knows at least one person has his back.

“I tell her that I’m playing for her, and I’ve played well ever since I started that, so I know she’s there,” Crites said.

Crites’ 10 points were the second highest for Fruita, behind Tyler Daniels, who led with 14.

The Wildcats got off to a slower start offensively, partially because of the absence of Tyler Kenagy and T.J. Pollock. Kenagy was out with of an injury and Pollock was on a recruiting trip.

The offense was limited to no more than 12 points in any quarter until the fourth, when the Wildcats scored 18.

Despite the low scoring, Fox was pleased with the team’s defensive ability, with Montezuma-Cortez being limited to only four points in the first quarter.

Alex Padgett came alive in the second half, scoring seven points after being blanked in the first two quarters.

Aaron Presnell led Cortez with 11 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter.


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