Wildcat boys shock Tigers in basketball
Once the Fruita Monument High School boys basketball team gets rolling, it’s hard to stop.
Friday night at Grand Junction High School, the Wildcats (7-8, 2-0 Southwestern League) played an emotion-filled fourth quarter to defeat the rival Tigers 47-34.
Fueled by a rowdy student body that was part of a packed Grand Junction gymnasium, Fruita outscored Grand Junction 20-10 in the final quarter
“To come in here and get a win is really special,” Fruita Monument guard TJ Pollock said. “(Grand Junction) played great, but we matched their intensity.”
Fruita Monument was coming off a two-week hiatus since its last game, and it showed early with Grand Junction (12-5, 4-1 SWL) taking a 14-5 first-quarter lead.
The Tigers were propelled by four 3-pointers in the quarter, including two from guard Tyler Winder.
“We came in tight, but we didn’t panic,” Fruita Monument coach Dave Fox said. “We kept telling them in the timeouts that we were going to be OK.”
In the second quarter, Fruita Monument slowly chipped away at the lead, and a Steve Goff offensive rebound with 1:30 remaining pulled the Wildcats within one at 18-17.
That score stayed the same until halftime.
Coming out of halftime, Fruita Monument struck first, with Drew Bridges hitting a lay-up to give the Wildcats their first lead at 19-18.
“We kept battling and once we got the lead, we didn’t give it back,” Fox said. “We really started clicking.”
Grand Junction fell behind by as much as 27-21 in the quarter, but a Tommy Powers 3-pointer with 45 seconds remaining cut the lead to 27-24.
Powers led the Tigers with 13 points.
“We cut the lead to three heading into the fourth, and I thought we would win, I really did,” Grand Junction coach Dutch Johnson said. “We just had a hard time scoring all night.”
Fruita Monument turned up the defensive pressure in the fourth quarter, forcing a turnover in the backcourt, which Pollock finished with a 10-foot jump shot. On the Tigers’ next possession, Fruita Monument pressured Grand Junction into a 10-second backcourt violation.
Tyler Kenagy converted the Tigers’ mistake into points by driving the lane to give the Wildcats a 32-24 lead.
“It seemed like every time we had a break, we had a bucket to follow it,” Fox said. “It was important to have not only the defensive effort, but then to follow that with points.”
Pollock led the way for the Wildcats with 16 points. The Fruita senior said the Wildcats felt the rust early, but knew they could play with Grand Junction.
“We haven’t had a game in two weeks, so we knew the scoring would come,” Pollock said. “We felt we could compete with them, we just had to stick with it.”
Fruita Monument follows one tough game in a hostile environment with another as the Wildcats play at Montrose at 7 tonight. The Wildcats might be without one of its starters after Kenagy left the game after landing hard in the fourth quarter.
“I’m really happy, but the only negative is Kenagy,” Fox said. “He took a hard fall, and I’m nervous how he’s doing.”
Grand Junction is off until next Friday when it hosts Montrose.