Slow start doesn’t plague Tigers against Carbon County
Who needs the first quarter anyway?
For the second straight game, the Grand Junction boys basketball team started slowly against a team from Utah. This time, it was against Carbon County in the final game of the first day at the Warrior Challenge at Central High School.
The Tigers were outscored 12-5 in the first quarter and if it weren’t for a three-point play from Geoff Baldwin with less than a minute left, it could have been worse.
Grand Junction was able to respond with near-perfect second and third quarters to defeat the Dinos 61-51.
“I thought it was a slow start because it took us a while to figure out how to attack their zone,” Grand Junction coach Dutch Johnson said. “But halfway thought the third, we figured it out and started attacking the paint.”
With Everett Robinson and Sam Morgan suspended for violating team rules, the Tigers’ options for attacking in the paint were narrowed to Baldwin.
The 6-foot-4 post was flawless around the basket, scoring 20 points — including nine in the second quarter. He also grabbed six rebounds and had six blocked shots.
“Geoff played good,” Johnson said. “With this lineup, we have to get him a lot of touches.
He is hard to guard once he gets the ball and he will have to play like that for us to be successful.”
Once Baldwin began playing strong inside, the Dinos were forced to put more than one man on him, which allowed guard Justin Trujillo and center Matt Wilkinson to both have double-digit scoring nights.
Trujillo had 12 points, including two 3-pointers in the second quarter. Wilkinson had a strong third quarter, scoring 10 points and grabbing five rebounds.
“If they share the ball, they can be pretty good,” Johnson said. “(With Everett out) it gets some kids in there that might not be playing.”
The strong second and third quarters allowed Grand Junction to push its lead to 43-32 heading into the fourth.
The Dinos hit three straight 3-pointers, cutting the Tigers’ lead to 55-51 with 30 seconds remaining. Stops on defense and Trujillo’s four free throws put the game away.
“That is where I want to be to help my team win,” Trujillo said. “I have confidence in myself to put those shots down.”