Missed opportunities cause the Wildcats a game
It wasn’t like the Fruita Monument High School boys basketball team wasn’t getting good opportunities Friday.
“We got all the shots we wanted out of the sets,” Wildcats coach Dave Fox said.
During a particularly frustrating 21/2 -minute stretch in the third quarter, they just weren’t falling.
That stretch allowed Fountain-Fort Carson to overtake the Wildcats on the way to a 61-53 nonleague victory.
“Those and the difference in free throws” spelled the difference in the game, Fox said.
Leading 36-35 with 31/2 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Fruita Monument missed six of seven shots, most from within a foot of the basket, to close out the quarter. That gave the Trojans the chance to build a 44-38 lead.
While Fountain-Fort Carson also struggled at times from the floor, Fox’s observations about the free throws were correct. The Trojans made 25 of 32 attempts, including nine of 12 in the final 1:41, when the Wildcats were forced to foul.
“We got every shot,” Wildcats junior Chance Muller said. “At the end of the day, (if) we make our layups and our dog shots, (it’s a) totally different game.”
The Trojans aided their effort by hitting three 3-pointers in the third quarter, shots they were missing in the first half.
“That’s how shooting is,” Muller said. “It’s contagious.”
Fruita Monument (4-7) faced some obstacles in trying to stay with the Trojans in the second half. Starting point guard Mike Perry sat out the second half after sustaining a head injury at the end of the second quarter. Fox was forced to sit his shooting guard, Brett Nankervis, for more than half of the third quarter when he picked up his fourth foul.
Nankervis keyed the Wildcats’ comeback in the fourth quarter, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers with less than three minutes remaining, but Fruita Monument could get no closer than five points.
While frustrated with the loss, Fox saw some positives.
“I’d rather take this game than a 40-point win,” he said.
Muller said the Wildcats have played some physical teams in the nonleague season and that can only help them during league play.
“I think we’re getting better at it,” he said of adapting to a physical style.
Fox was also pleased with his team’s defensive effort and rebounding. Alex Mende had 12 rebounds. Earning his first start, freshman Drew Bridges had five.
“I thought he held his own,” Fox said of Bridges.
Fruita Monument opens the Southwestern League season on Friday at Central.