Posting up for a win

Strong inside play lifts 'Cats past Central

Fruita Monument’s Sonya Lopez shoots Friday night over the defense of Central’s Jaylynn Medina in the second half of the Wildcats’ 42-29 victory. After starting the season slowly, Fruita Monument has won six of its past nine games — including three of four in Southwestern League play.

Fruita Monument used fast starts in the first and third quarters to hold off Central in a Southwestern League girls basketball game Friday night at Central.

Utilizing perimeter ball movement and good post play, the Wildcats pushed their lead from four points at the half to 13 early in the fourth quarter on their way to a 42-29 win.

Vanessa Herrera, who scored baskets at the buzzer of both the second and third quarters, finished with 13 points to lead three players in double figures for the Wildcats.

Central (4-13, 1-3 SWL) had trouble handing the post play of Herrera, whose basket to begin the fourth gave the Wildcats a
36-23 lead.

“We were stronger inside, so we wanted to work it inside to get points,” Herrera said.

Fruita Monument (7-10, 3-1 SWL) started the third quarter with six straight points from Kassidy Fair, the last two off a perfect feed from Mariah Love.

Love slashed inside for a basket later. Then, Taryn Smith answered with a jumper for the Warriors to make the score 32-23.

The Warriors got the lead under 10 when Smith turned her steal into a coast-to-coast layup, and Sierra Batchelor made two free throws.

The Wildcats made six free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

The Warriors battled from behind for most of the game after falling behind 14-6 after the first quarter.

After that tough first quarter, Central jumped right back into the game with eight straight points to start the second quarter.

Batchelor hit a 3-pointer, followed by an offensive rebound and putback basket by Cassidy Bryant, and when Smith finished off a three-point play after hitting a 12-foot jumper, the score was tied at 16-16.

The Wildcats regrouped late in the quarter with a 6-0 run on two buckets from Herrera and one from Taylor Eatwell. Herrera banked in a shot off an offensive rebound at the buzzer to give the Wildcats a 24-20 lead at the half.

First-year head coach Michael Wells said he wanted to use the Wildcats’ size as an advantage against the Warriors.

“That’s where we have an advantage against a lot of teams is our size,” Wells said.

He said the key was using the high-low post play to force Central to switch on defense, and then Fruita could take advantage of the size matchups. It worked a number of times when a guard was stuck covering the 5-foot-11 Herrera.

After an abysmal 1-7 start to the season, the Wildcats have gone 6-3.

“I think we’re learning what our coach wants us to do, and it’s helping us come together as a team,” Herrera said.

Fair finished with 12 points and Love had 10 for the Wildcats.

Smith led Central with 11.


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