Tiger boys should be balanced this season

Photo by Gretel Daugherty—Grand Junction High School’s Sam Morgan battles his way toward the basket with the ball during practice at the school.


Grand Junction Boys at a glance

Coach: Dutch Johnson, 7th year

Last season: 15-8, 9-1 SWL. Lost to Overland 71-68 in second round of playoffs.

Returning leading scorer: Tyler Winder, Jr., 5 ppg.

First game: Dec. 1 vs. Uintah, 7 p.m.

Coach Dutch Johnson’s three wishes for season

• Stay healthy

• Stay eligible

• No technical fouls all year, for me or the team

The Grand Junction High School boys basketball team will have a different look this season.

The two leading scorers from last year, Everett Robinson and Geoff Baldwin, are now respectively averaging 11.5 points for Central Wyoming College and taking swings in the Kansas City Royals organization. With those two all-conference players gone, a new group will try to defend last year’s Southwestern League title.

“The last three years we’ve had an Everett and a Baldwin, and we don’t have that this year,” Grand Junction coach Dutch Johnson said. “But we are much more balanced this year, and are going to be a little deeper.”

The Tigers are also without their starting point guard for the past three seasons, Justin Trujillo, who moved out of the school district, as well as post player Matt Wilkinson, who graduated.

Enough about what the Tigers don’t have — they do have a well-rounded team.

Not dominated by one or two standout players, the Tigers have a wide range of players fighting for five spots on the floor.

“Guys are still trying to figure out their roles, and I’m trying to figure out their roles,” Johnson said. “But it’s a good group of guys who put in a lot of work in the offseason.”

The Tigers won’t be totally fresh-faced, though. Tyler Winder, Tommy Powers, Mark Stern and 6-foot-5 Jesse Smith all saw a lot of playing time last season. Winder, Powers and Stern are all sharp-shooters, and can make shots from almost anywhere.

“This is probably the best-shooting team we’ve had,” Johnson said. “We’ve got some kids that can really shoot it, so that will balance out our scoring.”

Newcomers to the varsity are sophomores Casey Burns and Billy Whittenburg, both of whom improved over the summer, Johnson said. Sean Rubalcaba missed last season with shoulder surgery, but is back this winter, along with junior James Wilkinson and sophomore Jerreon Dennis.

“We have a lot of new guys that haven’t played a lot of varsity,” Johnson said. “So they are sped up, and we are trying to get them to slow down.”


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