Keltz lifts Montrose past GJ
MONTROSE — Every time the Grand Junction High School girls basketball team appeared to take control, Montrose answered.
Kala Keltz scored 20 points Friday night to lead the Indians to a 43-38 victory over Grand Junction at Lloyd McMillan Gym in each team’s Southwestern League opener. Tess Skoe added 10 points for the Indians.
“Kala played great,” Montrose coach Eric Sanchez said. “Kala needs to be that leader we need her to be. She did that tonight. I was pleased, not just with the way she played, but the way all our kids played. You don’t beat a team like Grand Junction with one player.”
Sydni Brandon and Sarah Wilkinson led the Tigers (10-2, 0-1 SWL) with eight points each.
Grand Junction started hitting some shots and drawing fouls to open the second quarter, taking a 13-6 lead.
That’s when Keltz got going, hitting a 3-pointer for her first basket of the game. By the end of the second quarter, she had 11 points, including a second 3-pointer in the final 10 seconds for a 19-16 halftime lead.
The Tigers led 36-32 with 6:30 left in the game when she sparked the team’s 11-2 run to close the game.
Keltz scored six of the Indians’ (8-2, 1-0 SWL) final nine points.
“Kala made some plays,” Grand Junction coach Sam Provenza said. “We’re still looking for someone to make a play for us. Sydni made some plays for us defensively. She needs to put up 15 shots. That might be her being just a sophomore with a bunch of juniors. I don’t know.”
The Tigers started with man-to-man defense, then went to a matchup zone to keep Montrose out of rhythm.
“We had kids really play well defensively,” Provenza said. “Sarah (Wilkinson) played really well on defense. We got caught in a couple situations our kids didn’t know what defense we were in.
“Is that inexperience? I don’t know in our 12th game if that’s inexperience. I’ve got to do a better job communicating that to them on the floor.”
Montrose struggled with the man-to-man defense but was able to get to the free-throw line down the stretch.
The Indians hit six of eight free throws in the fourth quarter.
“We knew they were going to change things up,” Sanchez said. “They are well-coached. They do a lot of different things to get you out of rhythm. We were able to persevere through it. We turned the ball over quite a bit, but we executed late when we needed to execute.”
Montrose shot 39 percent from the floor. Grand Junction shot 31.5 percent.
Montrose played sound defense against the taller Tigers on the other end of the floor.
“Both teams are so familiar with each other,” Sanchez said. “We knew we had to defend like crazy. I was really proud of the way we did that. We’re pretty much always at a size disadvantage, so our fundamentals and positioning is very important. I think that paid off for us tonight.
“It’s important to start like this, especially with a home game. If we want to compete for a league championship, we have to win home games. All we did was win one game. We have nine left. This league is a good league. Grand Junction is a very good basketball team. It was a nice win to start.”