Sophomore trio leads GJ past Rifle
Grand Junction High School’s Fawn Brady hasn’t been in a lot of pressure-packed situations.
Tuesday night against Rifle, Brady got an opportunity to see how she would respond to a little pressure.
With the Tigers leading by three with less than 10 seconds left, the sophomore was at the free-throw line trying to put the game out of reach.
The first shot was no good.
“I was disappointed I didn’t make the first one, so I calmed down and made the second one,” Brady said. “We realized we had to get it together and not let them come back.”
The free throw gave Grand Junction (2-4) a four-point lead and then the Tigers’ defense took over. The Bears didn’t get a good look and the Tigers escaped with the 49-45 victory.
Brady led the Tigers with 15 points, one of three sophomores to make a significant difference in the game. Paula Lage had 12 points and was critical to the Tigers’ success in third quarter with six points. Lage attacked the basket all game and had 10 free-throw attempts.
Sophomore Stephanie Drake came off of the bench and gave the Tigers two big baskets in the fourth quarter to help keep Rifle at bay.
“That is the personality of our team right now,” Grand Junction coach Sam Provenza said. “We are going to make some sophomore mistakes but those sophomores will do some good things.
Like Stephanie, with her speed, she gives us a spark and it jump-starts everyone out there.”
But it was Brady who was one of the Tigers’ leaders late.
“Fawn will be solid. She is our most experienced player right now,” Provenza said. “She was a starter last year and I think she is feeling too much pressure to carry the load, so I just want her to get into the mix and she is understanding that.”
Despite the efforts of Brady and her fellow sophomores, the Tigers nearly lost the game with late-game errors.
The Bears were able to cut a 15-point third quarter lead to three points with 30 seconds left. Provenza said that might have been because of a switch to a zone defense in the second half.
Rifle coach Stephanie Heald said the Bears were able to cut into the lead by playing good
“If we had played defense all four quarters instead of just the fourth, it might have been a
different turnout,” Heald said. “They were up by 15 at the one point, but our defense really picked up.”
Rifle played a strong first quarter and had a 10-9 lead but couldn’t hold it. Cortney Cordova led the Bears with 19 points, including nine in the fourth quarter. Ciara Euler added seven points.
Although it was a valiant comeback for Rifle, the Tigers did enough to get their second win of the season.
“We learn something new about ourselves every game,” Provenza said, “learning how to break a press last weekend, playing half-court defense in this game.
“If we could put this all together and get to the point where we stop learning those things and starting doing those things, I think it will be tougher and tougher to beat us.”