Montrose beats Fruita for AAU championship

Jake White of the Montrose Indians takes a shot during the final few minutes of Monday’s AAU championship game against the Fruita Nuggets at Grand Junction High School.

The Montrose AAU boys basketball team didn’t look at Monday’s Mesa County Junior Basketball Association championship game as a revenge game.

It was nice to turn the tables, however.

After losing to the Fruita Nuggets 40-39 during the regular season, Montrose dominated in Monday’s tournament finale.

The Indians never trailed as they pulled away for a 53-43 victory.

“We were all pumped (before the game) because last time we lost by one,” Montrose’s Jake White said.

White was one of the Indians’ key contributors on Monday. He was one of three players, Drew Casebier and Blake Alexander being the others, to score 10 points in a balanced Montrose effort. Ben Cruz added nine points.

“It’s been that way all year,” Montrose coach Troy Youngren said. “I have four or five always in double figures.”

Youngren coached Montrose two years ago when it also won the Mesa County tournament title.

Five of the players from that year’s team played on Montrose High School’s varsity this season.

As good as the team was two years ago, “This team would blow that team away,” Youngren said. “From one end of the bench to the other, they never take a second off.”

Montrose built a 14-5 lead in the first half, although Fruita cut its deficit to 22-19 with a late second-quarter flurry.

The Indians scored the first 13 points of the third quarter and never looked back.

As for the turnaround, “I think we hit our layups better (Monday) night,” Youngren said. “We
missed a lot of shots in that first game.”

Montrose edged the 76ers 53-51 in its tournament opener and defeated the Celtics 32-25 in the semifinal.

“We’ve been practicing every night we could get the gym,” White said.

“Our coach knew we were going to play (the Nuggets) in the finals,” White said.

Youngren agreed. “I knew it’d come down to this,” he said.

Tyler Fair led the Nuggets effort with 12 points.

The Celtics came back to win the third-place game, defeating the Spurs 35-31 behind Zachary Kiel’s 15 points.


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