Rebounding lifts Fruita past Huskies

Rebounding, rebounding, rebounding.

The Fruita Monument High School girls basketball team stressed rebounding in its Wildcat Invitational tournament opener Thursday.

Faced with the prospect of meeting a shorter, Class 4A team in Battle Mountain, the Wildcats took full advantage, hitting the boards with a vengeance as they defeated the Huskies 59-30.

“In the (season-opening) Palisade game, we were a little weak in our rebounding,” Wildcats post player Taylor Johnson said. “We took it hard to practice.”

Practice made near perfect for the Wildcats, who got 38 rebounds — 21 of them on the offensive end.

“That’s my heart,” Johnson said. “That’s what I want to do, is rebound.”

She did so to the tune of 10 rebounds, six of them on the offensive end,

That gave her plenty of put-back opportunities, which she converted for a game-high 16 points.

“We work on our bunnies (short put-backs),” Johnson said. “We work on our positioning.”

That’s something coach Dan Schmalz emphasizes in practice.

“The way our offense is built, with our outside shooting, our posts work on (getting) position,” Schmalz said.

Johnson wasn’t the only hard worker under the boards. Mary McGee had eight rebounds, seven of them offensive, and scored 11 points. Karlee Davis came off the bench to grab seven rebounds.

Fruita was also effective in putting defensive pressure on the Huskies, who turned the ball over 30 times and attempted only 29 field goals.

It took a while for the Wildcats to get in sync. The two teams ended the first quarter tied 10-10.

Fruita Monument quickly made four consecutive baskets early in the second quarter to pull away to a 20-14 lead.

At the same time, the Huskies were having problems taking care of the ball. Battle Mountain turned it over nine times in the second to allow the Wildcats to stretch their advantage to 27-16 by halftime.

The perimeter players did their part as well, with Sarah Hensley scoring nine points and Katie Lewis seven.

The Wildcats face ThunderRidge in the second round at 8 tonight The second-ranked Grizzlies easily defeated Central on Thursday.

“That’s what we want to play,” Johnson said of playing one of the elite teams in the state.


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