Big men help GJ top Central, clinch SWL
At one baseline, Grand Junction High School’s Zach Kiel made the steal. The ball was passed from Kiel to Greg Eccher to Broderick Robinson in half-beats, and Robinson’s layup at the other end was an example of how the Tigers got it done on Tuesday: Baseline to baseline.
And inside to outside, the Tigers were effective in their 63-40 win over visiting Central.
Inside, D.J. Wells (12 points), Kiel (12 points) and Kyler Rose (10) were dominant, and outside, Broderick Robinson slashed to the rim for 18 points.
The Tigers led 34-17 at halftime.
With the win, the Tigers (16-5, 8-1 Southwestern League) clinched the league title. But with Fruita Monument coming to Grand Junction for a 7 p.m. game Friday in what will be the final regular-season game for both teams, the Tigers will wait to celebrate.
On Feb. 1, Fruita beat Grand Junction, 41-37, handing Grand Junction its only league loss.
“I don’t think anything needs to be said from our end to get them fired up for that game,” Grand Junction coach Dutch Johnson said. “So, whether we had clinched the league title or not, we wouldn’t be speaking anything of a league championship until after Friday night.”
In the first three minutes of Tuesday’s game, Wells scored four points and forced Central’s top post player, Trey Fair, to commit his second foul. Warriors head coach Ryan Hayden sat Fair on the bench.
“That was our focal point,” Grand Junction coach Dutch Johnson said. “Going inside and attacking the rim, getting layups and free throws.”
Grand Junction scored 63 points, yet made only two 3-pointers. And with the height advantage of Wells, they hardly needed to.
“That gets me pretty excited,” Wells said of playing against a shorter team.
Wells showed his excitement in the third quarter, drawing a foul on Central’s Frank DiThomas and completing a three-point play that gave Grand Junction a 41-20 lead.
Robinson, meanwhile, was stringing together highlights that included a second-quarter three-point play, and, late in the second quarter, a one-handed offensive rebound tip-in that put the Tigers up 29-14.
Robinson has a different sort of pregame warmup: He plays a Pokemon video game.
“I get in a groove,” Robinson said, “and get at least three 100-point games before the real game starts, so I’m ready to go.”
Added Johnson about the warmup: “Whatever gets Broderick being Broderick.”
For Central, meanwhile, the regular season is over with the Warriors having gone from zero wins last year to nine.
“They’re night-and-day better than last year,” Johnson said. “Coach Hayden has done an unbelievable job with those kids. They play hard and credit coach to Coach Hayden for getting them in the gym and getting them working.”