Tigers reward Provenza’s hands-off style with win

Fruita Monument’s Vanessa Herrera scores two of her six points Friday night as Grand Junction’s Sarah Wilkinson defends in the Tigers’ 55-38 victory.

Once the Grand Junction High School girls basketball team trailed 4-0 to Fruita Monument on Friday, Grand Junction coach Sam Provenza called a timeout.

After a brief warning to get back on defense, Provenza stopped calling timeouts and Grand Junction overcame a slow start to win at Fruita Monument, 55-38.

Provenza said he learned a lesson long ago.

It happened while aches wrenched his gut during every point as he watched his son play tennis.

“A guy told me,” Provenza said, ” ‘You better remember something: He’s driving the bus. And the rest of us are just passengers.’ “

And so Provenza knew better than to call more timeouts. Instead, he let his girls play, and play they did.

Grand Junction guard Jamie Derrieux, who finished with a game-high 24 points, on two occasions blocked a Fruita player’s shot from behind and gathered the ball in the same motion before going coast-to-coast for layups. 

Grand Junction (15-3, 5-0 Southwestern League) took an 11-10 lead after the first quarter when Fruita lost its leading scorer, Lauren LaBonde. After returning from a broken left pinkie finger, LaBonde injured her right ankle.

LaBonde had hit a 3 that put Fruita ahead 7-2.

But then she was lying on the court for about a minute before being helped to the locker room.

“It was a bad feeling,” said Fruita guard Mariah Love, who led the Wildcats with 10 points and two 3-pointers.

“Words can’t explain it.”

Still, Fruita (10-9, 3-3) had a 19-14 lead in the second quarter after a Jessica Sinner 3-pointer, and took a 21-20 lead into halftime on an offensive rebound and layup at the buzzer by Ashley Martin.

“We knew we needed to play tough defense,” said Grand Junction’s Holly Meer of the buzzer-beater, “and we didn’t box out.”

Grand Junction put the game away in the third quarter.

First, Tigers guard Sydni Brandon, who finished with eight points, hit a 3-pointer to put the Tigers up 28-27.

Grand Junction began pressing full court and turned turnovers into layups and jump shots and had a 47-34 lead in the fourth quarter on a layup by Meer.

Fruita cut into the lead on an Eden Laase 3-pointer that pulled the Wildcats to within 48-37.

Provenza, meanwhile, did not call a timeout.

He remained at peace, having given up backseat driving.

“You can’t go in and make a basket for them,” Provenza said. “They’re driving the bus. We might help them make the turns ...”

Central 48, Durango 41: Brittany Hoppe scored 26 points, hitting six 3-pointers as the Warriors (5-14, 2-4 SWL) outscored Durango 20-7 in the 2nd quarter.

D’kotah Brodie added eight points and Jordan Eller had seven points for Central, which has won back-to-back games.

Glenwood Springs 66, Palisade 41: Visiting Palisade (7-12, 3-5 WSL) could not contain Glenwood Springs’ Delaney Gaddis, who had 19 points.


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