Tigers shred Durango’s zone in runaway

Within the first minute of Friday’s boys basketball game between Grand Junction and Durango, the Demons’ 3-2 zone defense was dismantled.

Abusing soft spots in the corners and near the free-throw line, the Tigers overcame a shooting slump in the second quarter with big scoring surges and a run-and-gun mentality to defeat Durango 46-27 in a Southwestern League game.

First it was Trenton Soriano with a corner 3-pointer, then D.J. Wells and Ridge Droskin with short jumpers.

The Tigers (12-2, 3-0 SWL) limped through the second quarter, but they never trailed. Midway though the third quarter, Grand Junction broke open its first double-digit lead.

The surge didn’t surprise coach Dutch Johnson. The Tigers thrive on defense-oriented runs, he said, and after Broderick Robinson and Soriano hit 3-pointers, Grand Junction put away the Demons (6-5, 2-1 SWL).

“I think it started with our defense,” Johnson said. “I think we held them to three (points) there in the third quarter. In the first half I thought we played decently on defense, but weren’t really aggressive. I thought in the second half we got up and were aggressive.

“That helped us create some shots in transition, because we knew with that zone defense we’d have to get out and run to beat it.”

It was Soriano who primed each burst for the Tigers. He scored only six points, but his two 3-pointers sparked runs.

“You know, Johnson always says I’m a shooter,” Soriano said. “He said that I should keep shooting, whether I made the last 10 (shots) or missed the last 10. That’s my mentality when I shoot.”

Johnson said Soriano is another weapon for the Tigers who helps spread the floor.

“I think he did well tonight,” Johnson said. “I’m not sure he shot as well as he could tonight. But he really spreads the floor with his ability to shoot because teams have to honor that. On top of his offensive abilities, he opens up the floor for D.J. (Wells) and Broderick and opens up lanes for everyone.”

Droskin and Robinson led Grand Junction with 12 points each. Droskin scored the majority of his points on mid-range jumpers and tallied his second-highest point total this season.

Robinson was held below his season scoring average, but he demonstrated his big-play ability. Robinson made a quick cut after receiving the ball in the corner, causing his defender to lose his footing. Robinson drove baseline and rose up to finish with a slam dunk, but he was fouled in the air, and the ball ricocheted off the back of the rim.

During the third quarter, Robinson made a circus layup in the middle of a collapsing Durango zone. With three defenders closing around him, Robinson spun in midair to avoid the pressure and banked home a layup.

Wells scored five points for the Tigers and had a big game defensively with four blocks. The 6-foot-7 center has picked up the nickname “The Human Eraser” and has blocked nine shots in the past two games.


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