LaBonde, Wildcats come alive in third quarter

The third quarter has been rough for the Fruita Monument High School girls basketball team.

After holding a halftime lead against league-leading Grand Junction on Feb. 3, Fruita fell behind by 10 points in the third and couldn’t recover.

But Saturday, the Wildcats (12-9, 5-4 Southwestern League) rebounded from a tough third quarter with a 17-point run to close out Durango 41-25.

“We played really well defensively in the first half,” coach Dan Schmalz said. “When you’re up what seems like a lot because you held them to so few points, that’s misleading. That’s happened to us once before and we didn’t bounce back like we should have. Today, once we realized it was a game again, we went on a run and closed them out.”

Durango (4-16, 2-7 SWL) scored only seven points in the first half, but more than doubled that total to 15 in a two-minute span to start the third quarter.

Durango came within one score near the end of the third quarter, when leading scorer Lauren LaBonde, still nursing a broken finger, came off the bench.

She had six assists, three to Eden Laase, who had a game-high 13 points. LaBonde scored eight points, but, Schmalz said, the junior guard provided the spark necessary to bounce back.

“I think Lauren has really grown as a player,” Schmalz said. “Sometimes she needs to score, but throughout the game she did a wonderful job being unselfish. It’s two ways.

“It shows how the team trusts her to make good decisions and she trusts the team to finish plays. I think she’s by far one of the best players in the league, and for her to develop that facilitator mentality in the second half of the season, that is what will help her playing wherever she goes when she’s done at Fruita.”

Fruita made a season-low four 3- pointers despite Durango exclusively running a 2-3 zone.

“If you look at the stats, we weren’t shooting very many free throws and teams were running zones on us every night,” Schmalz said. “We were shooting 3s and jumpers and getting nothing inside. Obviously that wasn’t working for us and now we have a different mentality. We’re focused on getting to the line because, make or miss, it puts a lot of pressure on the other team when they foul.”

Grand Junction 55, Montezuma-Cortez 17: Jamie Derrieux led Grand Junction with 16 points as the Tigers (18-3, 8-0 Southwestern League) defeated Montezuma-Cortez at home.

The Tigers shut out Cortez in the third quarter and held the Panthers to five field goals in the game.

Grand Junction can clinch the SWL title with a win at Montrose on Tuesday.

Moffat County 48, Palisade 36: A tie game heading into the third quarter got away from host Palisade (7-14, 3-7 Western Slope League), which was led by Cruz Maestas’s 11 points.

Moffat County outscored the Bulldogs 18-6 in the final quarter.


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