Seeking some revenge: ‘Cats, Tigers have same goal in boys, girls games

Grand Junction hopes to be better on the defensive end tonight when the Tigers battle Fruita Monument at 7 p.m.

One team is undefeated in the Southwestern League, the other is trying to avenge an earlier loss.

That’s the scenario for both the boys and girls basketball games tonight in Fruita Monument.

The Fruita Monument girls have lost twice to Grand Junction this season. The Tigers are 5-0 in the SWL, the Wildcats 3-2.

The girls tip off at 5:30 p.m., and the boys at 7.

The Fruita boys put their 5-0 SWL record and 15-game league winning streak up against the Tigers, whose only loss in the past 10 games was to Fruita, 58-34, in mid-January.

“Grand Junction is going to be ready,” Fruita Monument coach Dave Fox said. “They’ve been listening to everyone tell them about that loss, so they’ll be fired up to play.”

Fruita Monument (11-6, 5-0) is on a nine-game winning streak. The Wildcats have won their first five SWL games by an average of 24 points.

“Fruita is rolling,” said Grand Junction coach Dutch Johnson, whose team is 12-5, 4-1 in the SWL. “No one in league has beat them in a long time. Fruita is such a hard team to beat, but if we have any aspirations of winning the league, (today) is big.”

The Wildcats turned a 22-16 halftime lead into a 37-22 blowout by the end of the third quarter in January.

“We still have that sour taste in our mouth and we want to get rid of it,” Tigers guard Nate Yanez said. “The energy level wasn’t there, we were lazy on defense, so we’ll get back to it and hopefully come out with the W.”

The Wildcats aren’t counting on another lopsided win. Last season, the Wildcats had a comfortable win at Grand Junction before outlasting the Tigers 47-45 in the second meeting.

“I think we caught them on a bad night,” Wildcats guard Tyler Daniels said. “We are going to come out with the same mentality, but I’m expecting a different (Junction) team to come out.”

The Grand Junction girls have defeated Fruita Monument 56-48 and 57-48 this season. The first meeting was a nonleague game in the Fruita Monument Invitational.

“We tried different things in both games and had the same result,” Fruita Monument coach Dan Schmalz said. “We’ll use all the offense we have and see what’s working against them.”

The first two games played out the same way for the Wildcats. Grand Junction (12-6, 5-0 SWL) led throughout the game, with Paula Lage scoring 18 and 19 points, respectively.

Schmalz said Fruita Monument (10-8, 3-2 SWL) has to start strong against the Tigers.

“We haven’t been able to put together a full 32 minutes against Grand Junction,” Schmalz said. “We have to have great defense and execute offensively for a whole 32 minutes.”

Grand Junction coach Sam Provenza said the key for his team is to play good defense against the Wildcats, but also not be affected by the crowd.

“We don’t want to get caught up in the packed place,” Provenza said. “It’ll be packed, so if we can come out and play good defense, we’ll be in good shape.”


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