Robinson leads way as players make strong impressions
Tuesday night was my first time seeing Broderick Robinson play basketball. Now, I can’t wait for the next time.
The Grand Junction High School guard is a smooth operator, whether it’s driving to the basket or dropping in a 3-pointer.
The junior flows wherever he goes, and he doesn’t have to have the ball in his hands to do damage. But when he does, defenders have to pick their poison.
Central coach Ryan Hayden summed up the defensive dilemma after Robinson scored 28 points, 22 in the first half, of Grand Junction’s 66-52 victory Tuesday over Central: “You take away the drive, he’s going to kill you on the shot. Take away the shot, he’s going to kill you on the drive.”
The Warriors’ initial approach was to keep Robinson in front of them, to which Hayden said, “He made us pay for that.”
Indeed, Robinson made five 3-pointers in the first half, including four in the second quarter, during which he scored 17 points.
Robinson got in a rhythm with the catch-and-shoot beyond the arc, an element of his game he worked on in the offseason, knowing defenses this year would try to take away his drives.
“I just shoot when I’m open pretty much,” said Robinson, who is averaging 16.8 points per game and has made 30 of 67 3-pointers for the 10-3 Tigers.
Central’s Edward Becoat made that part of the game tougher for Robinson in the second half, and he held Robinson without a 3-pointer, but if the defense is going to work extra hard on him, Robinson knows his teammates will reap the rewards.
The best example came in the final minute of the first half when Robinson drew the defense to him while driving the right side, and in a looping motion he flung the ball around a defender into the paint for an easy layup by sophomore post player D.J. Wells. That was one of his team-high 37 assists this season.
Robinson still managed to score six points in the second half, showing his versatility with a turn-around jump shot and a running one-hander.
Impressive stuff, all of it.
Grace under pressure
The prettiest play of the night in the Junction-Central game, however, occurred on defense and had Robinson on the wrong end of it.
Robinson stole a pass and had only Central senior Frank DiThomas to beat as he drove to the basket, but DiThomas stayed a half-step ahead of him the whole way. When Robinson delayed his shot to try to shake DiThomas, the 6-foot-2 Warrior forward kept his focus on the ball, timed his jump perfectly and got all ball with his hand while gracefully avoiding body contact.
That’s not easy to do, period, and it’s doubly difficult against the likes of Robinson.
Artistic in the paint
Before the boys game, Grand Junction’s girls basketball team dispatched Central 51-20, and 6-foot junior Sarah Wilkinson was picture-perfect in the paint in the second half for the victors. When the Tigers worked the ball inside to her, she posted up strong and finished, notching a game-high 15 points.
Tigers coach Sam Provenza admired Wilkinson’s work, too, saying, “When she relaxes, just drop-steps, she’s pretty tough to stop.”
Don’t give him an opening
Central’s Trey Fair just strikes me as an athlete, one you don’t want to be left to guard alone when he sees a seam to the basket. He can put the ball on the floor, slice hard to the hoop and finish, like he did frequently in the third quarter Tuesday against Grand Junction, scoring 10 of his team-high 18 points.
“When he wants to be aggressive, he’s one of the best players in the league,” Hayden said.
Fair’s drives helped keep the Warriors close enough that the Tigers couldn’t get comfortable until the final minute of the game. To that, Hayden added, “Big player in a big moment.”
Had to say it
Tigers boys coach Dutch Johnson emphasized this point after the Central game: “I want to note Central’s a much-improved team on both ends of the floor.”
The Warriors dropped to 6-10 with the loss, but they’re a far cry from the team that was winless a season ago.