Tiger boys peaking at right time
The Grand Junction High School boys basketball team is playing with something that is scary to its opponents: confidence and momentum.
After dismantling Central by 30 points Tuesday night, the Tigers (15-7, 9-1 Southwestern League) rolled again at home, downing Fruita Monument 73-57.
“You want to peak at the right time and I think we are doing that,” Grand Junction coach Dutch Johnson said. “We are getting better and better, both the guys individually and the team.”
The Tigers finished with three players in double figures and despite a strong first quarter from Fruita Monument, applied too much offensive pressure for the Wildcats to handle.
“We are feeling pretty good,” Tigers guard Justin Trujillo said. “People were doubting us at the beginning of the season, but we showed up to play, played well as a team and won the SWL again.”
Trujillo finished with 15 points to go along with Geoff Baldwin’s 21 points and nine rebounds as well as Everett Robinson’s 17 points. The three players scored 22 of the Tigers’ 25 points in the second quarter, which helped Grand Junction take a 39-24 lead into the locker room.
“We needed to get out and run the floor,” Trujillo said. “When we run, we are a good team.”
The Wildcats were able to cut the lead to 44-34 in the third quarter, but the Tigers responded with an 11-6 run to finish the quarter.
The Tigers spent a lot of time at the free-throw line, going 32 of 49. Baldwin led the charge at the line, shooting 15 of 20.
“It was a hack-fest and all we did was shoot free throws,” Johnson said. “But we are shooting the ball well and scoring well at home. Now we have to do that on the road.”
Winning the SWL should get Grand Junction a first-round bye and a home game in the second round. The Tigers find out their fate Sunday.
The Central High School boys achieved one of their early season goals, finishing undefeated at home with a 69-62 SWL victory over Montrose.
The Warriors (19-4, 8-2 SWL League) had to rally from a 20-12 first-quarter deficit and led by 12 after three quarters.
Clay Kame and Kahler Grandbouche each scored 20 points for Central.
Nathan Robertson led Montrose with 26 points.
Palisade defeated Rifle 67-55 in a Western Slope League game.
The Bulldogs (6-17, 6-8 Western Slope League) were led by Riley Josey with 22 points. Jeremy Hayden had 17 and Kane Gunther had 14.
Grand Junction rallied to force overtime, then defeated Fruita Monument 48-47 in each team’s Southwestern League finale.
The Tigers (8-15, 4-6 SWL) outscored Fruita (8-12, 4-6 SWL) 17-13 in the fourth quarter and 5-4 in overtime.
Fawn Brady led Grand Junction with 15 points. Stephanie Drake had 10.
Fruita led in third quarter but let the game slip away.
Taylor Johnson led the Wildcats with 13 points and Mary Mcgee has 12.
In the Western Slope League, Rifle defeated Palisade 74-59.
The Bears were able to build a 40-25 halftime lead and not relinquish it in the second half.
Courtney Cordova led the Bears with 24 points and Elize Heutzenroder had 17 for Palisade (5-18, 5-9 WSL).
Mesa State went 1-1 in the first day of the RMAC-Northern Sun Crossover tournament in Colorado Springs, defeating Minnesota-Duluth 5-3 but falling 15-4 to ninth-ranked Winona State (Minn.) University.
Winona State is picked to win the Northern Sun Conference and beat Regis 10-3 earlier in the day.
Mesa State rallied with a five-run fifth inning to beat Minnesota-Duluth in the first game.
Mesa State freshman Gina Panacci won her second RMAC title, taking first place in the 1,000-yard freestyle in 10 minutes, 53.61 seconds. She won the 500 freestyle on Thursday.
The Mavericks, though, remain in second place behind sixth-ranked Incarnate Word with 532 points. The Cardinals lead with 572.
Another Mesa freshman, Katie Wedel, placed second in the 400 individual medley with a time of 4:40.01 and failed to qualify for nationals. Jackie McMillen took third in the 200 freestyle (2:00.61) and third in the 100 backstroke (59.72).
Mesa’s 200 medley relay placed second in 1:52.76 and the 800 freestyle relay was second in 8:07.42.
The RMAC Championship conclude today in San Antonio, Texas.