Rowan to the rescue

Junior guard leads Montrose girls to upset of GJ

Grand Junction High School point guard Sydni Brandon loses control of the ball as she’s trapped by the Montrose defense Friday night. The Indians’ defense held Brandon in check in the second and third quarters with a box-and-one defense in their 44-35 victory over the Tigers.

MONTROSE — When it looked as if the Montrose High School girls basketball team was playing not to lose, Stephanie Rowan held the Indians together.

After taking a big lead at halftime Friday, Montrose cruised to a 44-35 upset over Grand Junction in a Southwestern League game.

It was the Tigers’ first loss of the season.

“We understood that they were going to make some shots,” Montrose coach Eric Sanchez said. “I told the girls in the locker room that they are going to make some shots, and we can’t let that discourage us.

“We knew what kind of team they are and what kind of defense they were going to come in and try and run. We believed in our offense, and we believed in ourselves.”

Rowan took control of the game when Grand Junction
(11-1, 0-1 SWL) whittled a 19-point deficit down to eight points. After numerous turnovers and 10-second back-court calls, Sanchez leaned on the junior guard to calm his team down and take care of the ball.

“She’s been with the program since she was a freshman, and she had the opportunity to get a lot of minutes with us last year,” Sanchez said. “She didn’t have to contribute as much last year as she has this year.

“As a captain this year, her leadership on the floor has been huge for us, as you saw tonight, and she was able to guard their best player tonight.”

Hot shooting, a sagging zone defense and a stagnant Tigers offense allowed Montrose (6-5, 1-0 SWL) to take an early lead.

But that lead didn’t last long when Sydni Brandon hit back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers for Grand Junction.
The problem for the Tigers, however, was giving Montrose a bonus opportunity with two minutes left in the first quarter.

Down 13-8, the Indians went on a 6-0 run — the majority coming at the free-throw line — to take a one-point lead at the end of the first quarter.

From there, the offense slowed for the Tigers, as they scored four points in the second quarter.

“We played really tentatively offensively in the first half, and we looked a little confused on the floor,” Grand Junction coach Sam Provenza said. “I sure didn’t have them as prepared as I wanted them to, as well as we needed to be. I thought we came back in that second half and played our guts out. We made it a ballgame in the second half.

“We made some little adjustments (at halftime). We got some pressure in the full court because we felt like we had a chance to get to their guards a little bit. We just were tentatively moving tonight, and that cost us.”

A collapsing, box-and-one zone defense by Montrose shut Brandon down for the second and third quarters, and the Tigers couldn’t find anyone else to pick up the slack.

Grand Junction tried to rally in the second half, but fell short.

Brandon led the Tigers with 16 points.

Rowan had 12 points and Kaitlin Ammermann added 11 for Montrose.


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