Unsung players lift ’Cats to win in boys basketball
With the Fruita Monument High School boys basketball team mired in a six-game losing streak, Wildcats coach Dave Fox figured he might as well clear the bench against Montrose.
Fruita played 12 different players Saturday night and it worked, as the Wildcats (5-11, 1-4 Southwestern League) defeated the Indians 66-61 at home.
“This was a team victory tonight and I hope everyone realizes that,” Fox said. “I was really pleased with the young kids that came out and played tonight.”
Although senior Alex Mende had a solid game with 17 points, it was the increased roles for underclassmen TJ Pollock, Drew Bridges, Tyler Daniels and Tyler Kenagy that made the difference.
Pollock had 14 points and five steals in the most playing time he has had all season.
“TJ has had a rough year but he never gave up,” Fox said. “He played really well tonight both on offense and defense.”
Bridges, a freshman, had seven points, Daniels had six and Kenagy added four in a game in which the Wildcats were able to use a variety of lineups to overcome a 12-8 first-quarter deficit.
Led by Pollock’s seven second-quarter points and six from Chance Muller, the Wildcats outscored the Indians in the second quarter 21-9 and took a 29-21 halftime lead.
The Indians were able to retake the lead in the third quarter at 32-31, but a Pollock 3-pointer gave the Wildcats a lead they never relinquished.
“Sometimes the biggest remedy for ill feelings is a win,” Fox said. “You can have a lot of moral victories in a loss, but there is nothing better than a win.”
The first quarter looked like a continuation of the Wildcats’ emotional win Friday night against Grand Junction.
The Wildcats (6-9, 2-3 SWL) took an 11-7 first-quarter lead, led by Sarah Hensely’s eight points.
But just like that, Montrose stiffened up on defense and began controlling the boards on its way to a 51-33 win.
“Fruita was on an emotional high so I was worried about a letdown,” Montrose coach John Mraule said. “I told our girls that they will stay with you for a while, but just keep playing and you are the better team and that will show as the game goes on.”
Montrose went on a 7-2 run to start the second quarter and outscored the Wildcats 18-6 to take a 25-17 halftime lead. Part of the Indians’ ability to take over the game was getting to the free-throw line, shooting 13 first-half free throws to Fruita’s two.
The Indians also were able to get Fruita center Taylor Johnson into foul trouble with three in the first half.
The Indians ran away with it in the third quarter, allowing Fruita to score only four points.
Montrose was led by Kaylee Walker and Hanna Bowden, who had 18 and 17 points, respectively.
Fruita was led by Hensley, who finished with 12 points.
“We played two pretty decent quarters and two ugly quarters so the two good quarters show us that we can play with Montrose,” Fruita coach Dan Schmalz said.