Scoring drought dooms Wildcats

The Fruita Monument High School girls basketball team had a quarter Friday every coach dreads.

Coming out of halftime tied, the Wildcats couldn’t hit a shot or layup, scoring only two points in a 13-minute span, eventually falling to Carbon, Utah, 44-36.

“Anytime you have a single-digit quarter, that’s not good, so we try for double-digit quarters,” coach Dan Schmalz said.

“To score two points is pretty sad.”

The Dinos pressed the entire game and Fruita committed costly turnovers.

“We weren’t getting open shots, much less getting the ball past half court with their press,” said Fruita Monument guard Sarah Hensley, who led the Wildcats with 16 points.

Fruita’s early offense was based around post player Taylor Johnson, who scored two straight baskets to tie the game before the half. She finished with 10 points and had the Wildcats’ only score in the third quarter.

It wasn’t until the final three minutes of the game that things started clicking for Fruita Monument, when the Wildcats put together a 15-6 run to finish the game.

In those three minutes, Hensley scored 10 points, hitting a free throw and three 3-pointers, including a buzzer-beater to end the game. Katie Lewis hit a 3-pointer and Johnson also scored in the run.

“We realized that two points in the third quarter is not acceptable for us, especially at the varsity level,” Hensley said.

“We finally pulled together and decided ... we’re going to start boxing out, we’re going to start making our shots fall and we just had to really pull together in those last couple of minutes.”

Schmalz is confident his team can turn it around today for the final game of the tournament when the Wildcats take on Battle Mountain.

“We’re a better team than this,” he said. “We’ll bounce back.”

Central 72, Palisade 16: The Warriors don’t care if they’re playing the No. 1 team in the state or a Class 4A opponent, they’re going to apply pressure.

The Warriors (3-1) put a tight hold on in-town rival Palisade (0-3), and didn’t let up.

“I didn’t want in any way for it to feel like we were running up the score,” Central coach Todd Dixon said. “But my philosophy is to go hard no matter who we play.”

The Warriors’ relentless defensive forced the Bulldogs into turnovers throughout the game, and held Palisade to eight points through the first three quarters. Offensively, Central had its way, leading 32-6 at halftime, and extending that lead to 51-8 at the end of the third quarter. Amy Kame led the way with 29 points, 10 steals, nine rebounds and five assists.

Dixon said the game was a good test after a mentally and physically exhausting game Thursday against ThunderRidge.

“I hate making excuses but (Thursday) night was a battle,” Dixon said. “They wore us out a little bit, but I was pleased that in the first game of the day in a quiet gym we played well.”

The Warriors made an adjustment to their starting lineup, inserting guards Brittany Hoppe and Tayler Else. Both players took advantage of the boost in playing time, with Hoppe finishing with 11 points and Else 10.

“I liked starting because I have a certain responsibility of what I’m supposed to do,” said Else, who was getting her first varsity start. “I’ve been practicing and getting better and I just have a lot more confidence.”

The game for Palisade was a reminder of things the Bulldogs still need to work on. Palisade was unable to successfully break Central’s press, and struggled to get open looks at the basket.

“We acted intimidated, and they’re a great defense, but there are no excuses,” Palisade coach Toni Gunther said. “But we have to remember it’s the preseason, and know it’s important to work to get better.”

The Bulldogs were led by Olevia Shafer’s six points. Palisade finishes the tournament today against Grand Junction at 10 a.m., and Central plays Columbine at 1:30 p.m.


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