Tigers roll past Utes in rematch

Grand Junction’s Justin Trujillo leaps past a block by Uintah’s Ian Drane beneath the basket but passes the ball to a teammate instead during the second half of Tuesday’s game at Grand Junction,

Through the first four games of the season, the Grand Junction High School boys basketball team just didn’t look right.

The Tigers were without Everett Robinson and Sam Morgan, but still, something was off.

The Tigers opened 2-2, including a 64-47 loss to Class 3A Uintah, Utah, in the first game of the season.

One week after that loss, the Tigers had another shot at Uintah, this time at full strength.

They looked more like the traditional Tigers on Tuesday night, storming past the Utes 66-42 at Grand Junction High School.

“I thought we played hard over the weekend but we just were at a different level tonight,” Grand Junction coach Dutch Johnson said. “There was more intensity, especially on the defensive end, and that is how we have to play every game.”

Uintah had only 29 points heading into the fourth quarter Tuesday compared to nearly double that total last week. Grand Junction senior post Matt Wilkinson had his minutes drop with the return of Robinson, but still had a solid game, with 11 points, three rebounds and two steals.

“It was a big statement game because we got beat by them at their house,” Wilkinson said. “It was our first home game and we had to come out big and show what the Junction Tigers are all about.”

What the Tigers are all about is a up-tempo style, highlighted by blazing fast guards Tyler Winder and Justin Trujillo. Both guards finished with seven points, but more importantly,  they were distributing the ball.

“I thought we put a lot of pressure on them, which we didn’t do the first time,” Johnson said. “Our shot selection was a lot better.”

The elephant in the room was the return of Robinson. The 6-foot-4 senior was suspended the first four games, but energized the Tigers within the first minute he was on the floor, stealing the ball and dunking on the other end.

Robinson finished with 19 points, including three 3-pointers, which balanced his ability to get to the basket and finish.

“It was nice to come out and show people I am back,” Robinson said. “I was able to get the feel of it and everyone was moving a lot more as the game went on.”

Johnson said Robinson’s 19 points and eight rebounds was what he expected from the senior.

“He is a difference maker for us,” Johnson said. “And that is what we expect of him. He going to do a lot of things for us like guard their best player.”

Grand Junction outscored the Utes 19-9 in the second quarter, leaving no hopes of Uintah knocking off the Tigers for the second time this season. Lance Hansen was the Utes’ leading scorer with nine points. Gavin Bullock added seven.

A big reason for the Utes’ inability to keep the game close was the inside play of Geoff Baldwin.

The 6-5 senior controlled the paint, finishing with five blocked shots to go along with his 10 points and nine rebounds.

“We have yet to win two in a row until tonight, so we have to get rolling now,” Johnson said. “Chatfield is a good team and we’ve got them on Friday.”


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