Sanchez’s solid effort not enough for Central vs. Grand Junction
The Central High School boys basketball team tried its best to play spoiler.
Friday night at Grand Junction High School, the Warriors (4-19, 2-8 Southwestern League) had a 27-point effort from Taylor Sanchez, but it wasn’t enough to keep pace with the Tigers (16-6, 8-2 SWL) in Grand Junction’s 62-46 victory.
“Last game of the regular season and (Central) didn’t have a great record,” Grand Junction guard Tyler Winder said. “But they’ve been playing scary lately, and we had to come out and play.”
The Tigers took a 12-5 first-quarter lead, propelled by two 3-pointers from Winder.
Sanchez kept the Warriors in the game by scoring Central’s first 11 points, including back-to-back jumpers that cut the Tigers’ lead to 15-11 early in the second quarter.
“We started the game slow, but Taylor did a great job of carrying us,” Central coach Phil Cain said.
Nate Yanez put the Tigers up 19-11, but Central went on a 7-0 run, capped by a Sanchez 3 to bring Central to within one, 19-18.
Sanchez finished with 14 of the Warriors’ 18 first-half points.
“(Sanchez) is a talented offensive player,” Grand Junction coach Dutch Johnson said. “We did a good job on him, but the kid hit tough shots all game.”
Grand Junction closed the first half with five consecutive points from Winder, giving the Tigers a 26-18 halftime advantage.
Winder had four 3s in the first half and finished with 22 points.
“You have to shoot with confidence when you are open,” Winder said. “I’m a shooter and the guys were doing a great job of kicking it out to me for good looks.”
Grand Junction expanded its lead to 44-28 late in the third quarter on a Jerreon Dennis fast-break layup. Central again fought back and two free throws from Zach Padilla pulled the Warriors within nine, 45-36, early in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers pushed their lead back into double digits, Central got within nine again at 50-41, but couldn’t get any closer.
Grand Junction’s James Wilkinson closed the game with a fast-break layup to give the Tigers a 57-43 lead with two minutes remaining.
“We got out of our offense and got too excited when the game got close,” Cain said. “To Junction’s credit, we forced a few shots.”
The Tigers’ 21-2 first-quarter lead allowed Grand Junction (16-7, 9-1 SWL) to cruise to a 70-16 win over Central.
“We do well when we get a fast start,” Grand Junction coach Sam Provenza said. “We got out in a hurry and again our defense led to our offense.”
Grand Junction reserve senior guard Kara Duke got a start on senior night, and had four first-quarter steals. Duke played the majority of the game, and finished with eight points and six steals.
“Tonight was a lot of fun,” Duke said. “It was nice to get out there long enough to feel comfortable and get going.”
Paula Lage finished with a game-high 21 points and Jamie Derrieux had 17.
“This being our last official home game, it was important to get out there and play our hearts out,” Duke said.
Central (2-20, 0-10 SWL) got a team-high eight points from Jordan Eller.