Tigers get back on track with rout of Bears

PHOTO BY DANIELLE STOMBERG Grand Junction High’s Justin Trujillo goes in for a basket during Tuesday night;s game against the Rifle Bears



It was a long four days for the Grand Junction High School boys basketball team.

The Tigers couldn’t wait to get back on the court after last Friday’s 70-42 loss at Chatfield.

“We were eager to get back on the floor (and) get that taste out of our mouths,” Tigers senior post player Matt Wilkinson said.

He was one of several Tigers who provided a bit of mouthwash to Grand Junction’s season Tuesday. Wilkinson scored 10 points and had a game-high seven rebounds as the Tigers rolled past Rifle 80-46.

“I think our team was pretty excited to get back on the court,” Grand Junction assistant coach Clay Keithley said. “Whenever we lose, we don’t dwell on it.”

Keithley actually made his debut as a head coach, filling in for Dutch Johnson, who was serving a CHSAA-mandated one-game suspension after being ejected from the Chatfield game.

Ironically, Keithley got his first head coaching victory against his alma mater.

Keithley’s strategy was to put it on autopilot and let the players do what they do best.

“I kind of feel like that little monkey at the rodeo that rides on the collie,” he said. “That collie’s trained.”

So are the Tigers (4-3), who took a 12-2 lead on the strength of two Geoff Baldwin jump hooks, 3-pointers by Everett Robinson and Tyler Winder and a basket by reserve Tommy Powers.

Keithley had no intentions of reinventing the wheel.

“We’re a good team,” he said. “We just executed and boxed out.”

Grand Junction shot 55 percent from the floor.

“That’s being patient on offense (and) getting good looks,” Keithley said.

On defense, the Tigers only allowed Rifle 17 rebounds, five offensive.

Baldwin confounded the Bears (2-3) with his half-hook, finishing with 25 points to lead all scorers, grabbing six rebounds and blocking a shot. Robinson added 21 on an array of shots, including three from beyond the arc, and had five rebounds, three steals and one blocked shot.

Winder joined Wilkinson in the double-digit department with 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.

Most of Wilkinson’s points came on put-backs off his four offensive rebounds.

“It’s just the opportunity — offensive rebounds, good assists from Justin (Trujillo),” he said.

“Rebounding is a big part of my game, that and defense,” he said of his role.

Tyler Rust scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half to lead Rifle; Eric Laudick added 13 points as the Bears relied on their outside game for most of the night.

Grand Junction closes out the December portion of its schedule Saturday against another Class 4A Western Slope League opponent, Battle Mountain.


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