Tired Tigers fall short in tournament title game

CASTLE ROCK — A trio of three-game tournaments may have caught up with the Grand Junction High School boys basketball team Saturday.

The Tigers, playing in their third tournament in as many weeks, and the second on the Front Range, looked a bit tired midway through the second quarter of the championship game in the Douglas County Invitational. Arvada West overcame an eight-point deficit to defeat Grand Junction 68-57.

“We’re tired,” Grand Junction coach Dutch Johnson said, quickly adding, “but I’m not making excuses.”

Halfway through the second quarter, the Tigers (6-3) had a
 23-15 advantage over the Wildcats. But Johnson and his team knew Arvada West had the potential to score big from the outside. Once one shooter got hot, that’s all it took as the Wildcats started hitting from the 3-point line and cut their deficit to 29-27 with a surge before the half.

Things really fell apart for Grand Junction in the third quarter. The Tigers went up by seven midway through the third, only to see an 18-point turnaround as Arvada West scored 20 points in the final five minutes of the quarter to grab a 50-39 lead.

“They’ve got three kids on the floor who can shoot the 3, and we just didn’t stay home (defensively),” Johnson said.

When the Tigers did, the Wildcats dribble-penetrated and kicked the ball back outside effectively.

The Tigers also struggled at the other end, hitting only 17 of 40 field goal tries and 15 of 25 free throws.

“We did miss a lot of shots we normally make,” said Tigers point guard Broderick Robinson, who led the team with 20 points.

Part of that was because of the Wildcats’ defense.

“They do a good job of switching up their defense,” Johnson said.

On the plus side, “To go 2-1 in (the Heritage and Douglas County) tournaments, I’m proud of them.” Johnson said.

Robinson said the team’s unselfishness has also been a bonus.

“We’re sharing the ball. Everybody’s shooting, everybody’s scoring,” he said.

The Tigers now get a bit of a break before the January portion of their schedule commences, giving Johnson a chance to do something he hasn’t been able to do as much as he’d like.

“We can actually practice,” he said.


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