Talkington's growth part of Central's improvement this season
When Tyler Talkington catches a pass, especially a skip pass across the court, there’s a good chance he’ll pull the trigger on a 3-pointer.
The Central High School senior has led the charge for a new-look, deep-shooting Warriors squad that complements big man Trey Fair.
The year-to-year improvement under coach Ryan Hayden has culminated with Central (5-8) shooting the ball well heading into its Southwestern League opener Friday against Durango. The Warriors have won four of their past five games, and hot shooting has been a big part of the success.
“We’ve got a lot of good shooters on the team,” Hayden said. “I think we can spread the floor with Tyler Talkington, Giles Woolsey and the freshman Kyle Blair.”
Moved and moved again
What is sure to be a marquee matchup between Class 5A’s No. 7-ranked Grand Junction girls basketball team and eighth-ranked ThunderRidge can’t seem to find a time and date that will work.
Originally scheduled at Grand Junction High School on Jan. 11, snowfall in the mountains kept the south suburban Denver school from making the trip. The game was postponed yet again Monday, pushing the game to Feb. 1 at 1 p.m. at Brownson Arena.
The new date sits squarely between two key games for the Tigers (11-0) — an SWL contest against rival Fruita Monument and a nonleague game against Palisade.
“We really want to see how we stack up against the rest of the state,” Grand Junction coach Sam Provenza said. “I think we’ve been playing better teams as this season has gone on, and they’re a very good team. We were hoping to get it in before league started, but it’s nice in some ways for us. Usually we play these 5A teams at the beginning of the season, and we don’t see them again until the playoffs. This gives us a chance to see a very good team later in the season.”
The Grizzlies (7-3) have played a brutal schedule this season. Their only in-state loss came against Broomfield, Class 4A’s top-ranked team, and their two other losses came against out-of-state opponents at the Nike Tournament of Champions. The tournament, which took place in Phoenix, is considered one of the top girls basketball tourneys in the country.
Full of defensive fire
Without seeing Quincy Campbell play, not much in his stat line stands out as exceptional. But on the floor, the Palisade junior forward flies around the court on defense and plays high-energy basketball from tip-off to the final buzzer.
He’s one of the best, if not the best, defenders for the Bulldogs (6-4, 3-2 4A Western Slope League). Averaging 2.1 steals per game, Campbell has impressed Palisade coach Brian Tafel, who called Campbell the “heart and soul of our defense.”
“He does a great job defensively for us, and he provides us with a much-needed spark on the defensive end,” Tafel said. “We’re going to count on him to maintain that role throughout the year. He’s important to us.”
Post power in Palisade
After a freshman year in which she couldn’t get healthy, Aspen Guray has emerged as a key piece to a young and talented Palisade girls squad.
The 5-foot-11 sophomore is third on the team in points, averaging eight per game, and second in rebounds with four per game. Being healthy during her sophomore campaign has allowed her to become one of the most technically sound post players in the 4A WSL.
Coach Danielle Bagwell said Guray, like a lot of tall post players, still picks up small injuries from time-to-time, but Guray has battled in practice to improve.
“She’s come a long way, ultimately,” Bagwell said. “She’s really playing strong for us.”
Welcome to the big stage
Seemingly out of nowhere, Montrose forward Kyle Freeburg has emerged as one of the top players in the SWL.
Freeburg, a junior, eclipsed his 2012-13 scoring total five games into this season. He leads the Indians in scoring, averaging 19.4 points per game, good enough for second in the SWL, and he has been a key cog defensively for the Indians (5-4). Freeburg is third on the team in rebounds and assists.
Most importantly to Montrose coach Martin Maloney, Freeburg has joined senior Angelo Youngren, a three-year starter for the Indians, as one of the team leaders.
Youngren, the starting point guard and a two-sport star for Montrose, leads the SWL in assists.
“I mean, obviously Angelo is still our leader on the court, being the kind of guy that he is,” Maloney said. “But Kyle has made strides and is part of that leadership group.
“He’s worked on his game during the offseason and took a lot of shots. That’s starting to bear fruit for us.”