Wells’ defense lifts Tigers to easy victory

By the end of the first half Tuesday night, the Grand Junction High School boys basketball team had sent an emphatic defensive message to Uintah (Utah) High School.

D.J. Wells owns the paint, and anyone foolish enough to enter will be summarily rejected. Tallying seven blocks and 12 rebounds, Wells led the Tigers to a 66-41 nonleague win over the Utes at Grand Junction High School.

Wells also scored seven points, but the majority of his work was on the defensive end. The 6-foot-7 junior made up for lackadaisical Grand Junction defense on the perimeter, Tigers coach Dutch Johnson said.

“It’s a good thing he had the game he had because he bailed us out plenty of times,” Johnson said. “I think on every possession in the first half we got beat on dribbles. Every single possession.”

Grand Junction’s offense took its time heating up. The Tigers (8-2) started 3 for 14 from the field, including a stretch in which they missed four consecutive layups. The slow start crept into the second half, but stifling defense created offensive opportunities for Grand Junction. Limiting Uintah to only four points in the third quarter, the Tigers found easy buckets in transition, which led to much-needed rhythm from beyond the arc.

Broderick Robinson, after struggling from the field in the first half, hit four of his five 3-point attempts in the final two quarters and led the Tigers with 26 points. He also spaced the floor for Trenton Soriano, Greg Eccher and Ridge Droskin, who combined for another five 3-pointers for the Tigers.

“We started moving a little more and started getting better looks,” Johnson said. “In the first half, everybody was pretty stagnant. Nobody was moving, and we didn’t get looks. But obviously it helps having guys like Soriano and Eccher and Broderick hitting 3s.

“Maybe a little bit of that was coming off of break, but we need to learn to take what we do in practice and have it translate into the game. Because in practice we’ve been running great motion offense. But tonight we come out and stand and try to do everything ourselves.”

The win was Grand Junction’s first since dropping two games heading into Christmas break. After starting the season with seven wins, Johnson said the victory over Uintah was needed to get back on track.

“It was hard losing two games right before break, because we’ve had to sit on two losses for a long time,” Johnson said. “But it’s nice to get a big win before playing a very good Legend team on Saturday.”


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