On the other side: Fruita Monument’s Padgett shines in win against former team

Fruita Monument’s Alex Padgett scores two of his 20 points Friday night over Grand Junction’s Sean Rubalcaba during the Wildcats’ 58-34 victory. Padgett played his freshman year at Grand Junction.

Alex Padgett had no problem getting pumped up for Friday’s boys basketball game at Grand Junction High School.

The Fruita Monument High School junior guard scored a game-high 20 points in the Wildcats’ 58-34 win over rival Grand Junction.

Padgett played his freshman year at Grand Junction (7-5, 0-1 Southwestern League) before a family move sent him to Fruita. This isn’t the first time Padgett has played against his former team, but it was the first time he’s played so well.

“A lot of times players will get into the hype and get out of their game,” Padgett said. “The most important thing was sticking to my game and staying focused.”

Padgett showed off not only his skill set, but also displayed some mental toughness by staying composed in front of a rowdy crowd at Grand Junction. “It’s an interesting journey for that young man and he’s had to deal with a lot,” Fruita Monument coach Dave Fox said. “He’s had the crowd calling him a traitor, but he just really felt it and did a lot of great things.”

Padgett got the Wildcats going early, scoring back-to-back points on fastbreak layups to put Fruita Monument (6-6, 1-0 SWL) ahead 6-3. Padgett hit a 3-pointer later in the quarter to give the Wildcats a 12-6 lead.

“In the first quarter I got a couple easy baskets and hit that 3,” Padgett said. “I was in a groove.”

Grand Junction responded and cut the Wildcats’ lead to 14-11 with a Nick LeFebre 3-pointer with two seconds left.

The Tigers kept it close in the second quarter, holding the Wildcats to eight points. But the Grand Junction couldn’t find any offensive rhythm, scoring only five points in the quarter, which came from reserve players Jerreon Dennis and Broderick Robinson.

“We had one guy with the ball and four guys watching,” Grand Junction coach Dutch Johnson said about his team’s offensive execution. “They were running a 2-3 zone, and we didn’t attack it.”

Fruita Monument held the Tigers’ leading scorers, Casey Burns, Nate Yanez and Tyler Winder, to a combined six points in the first half. Fox said the Wildcats were focused on keeping the Tigers out of paint.

“We tried to keep Burns from driving the lane and keep them shooting outside shots,” Fox said. “Luckily for us they didn’t hit them tonight.”

The Wildcats didn’t waste time putting the game out of reach. The Wildcats had a 5-0 run in the first 1:30 with an offensive rebound from James Lewis and a 3-pointer from Padgett to give Fruita a 27-16 lead.

Fruita stretched its lead to 37-22 by the end of the third quarter.

“I’m really proud of the kids out there,” Fox said. “There was an air of confidence, and the pressure of the crowd didn’t bother them at all.”

Drew Bridges was held to 11 points, but did pull down eight rebounds and had three assists. Tyler Daniels added six points and seven assists.

“It was a great team effort,” Daniels said. “The whole team came to play and we had a great plan and put that in motion to deliver a big win.”

Grand Junction was led by Sean Rubalcaba’s eight points. Burns finished with seven points.

“We have to respond to this loss,” Johnson said. “We got outworked, outcoached and outplayed, but it’s not a championship game. We have nine more league games to go.”


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