Wildcats travel to Cherry Creek

The Fruita Monument girls basketball teams knows it is going to have to be ready tonight to play with Cherry Creek.

The Wildcats are a No. 11 seed and travel to take on the No. 6 Bruins at 7 p.m.

“As a lower seed, you have to be focused and be ready to go the whole time,” Fruita coach Dan Schmalz said. “There is always a six-11 upset somewhere so hopefully that is us.”

Schmalz looks for the Wildcats to follow in Eaglecrest’s footsteps like last season when the No. 11 seeded Raptors knocked off Douglas County in the first round of the 2008 playoffs.

In another part of the 2008 bracket the Wildcats were in the playoffs as a No. 12 seed and suffered a 63-33 loss to Columbine where the Rebels led by 20 before the Wildcats had the chance to breathe. The Wildcats trailed 18-8 after the first quarter and the Rebels pushed the lead to 35-15 at halftime. Schmalz said he hopes the team can learn from that experience.

“If last year was any indication, the first five minutes are huge,” Schmalz said. “We weren’t ready last year, and by the time we settled in, we were already down so much.”

But this season the Wildcats are more suited to compete, led by sophomore Taylor Johnson and junior Sarah Hensley, who provide Fruita strong scoring threats on the inside (Johnson, 11.6 ppg) and outside (Hensley, 8.5 ppg).

“Playing a team we haven’t played before we have to come out and score right away to get the momentum,” Schmalz said. “We are going to have to shoot the ball really well and make some shots.”

The Wildcats scored an average of 50 points per game this season in their eight wins and only 37 points per game in their 12 losses, putting a bigger emphasis on scoring tonight. For Fruita senior Mary McGee, the key to scoring for the Wildcats is putting together four quarters.

“We have had trouble playing well offensively for all four quarters,” McGee said. “(Today) it will be taking good shots and making them count.”

McGee provides more of a defensive and rebounding role for the Wildcats, but did have a 20-point performance earlier this season against Durango.

Against the Bruins, the Wildcats must stop a trio of players who each average nine points per game led by senior Haley Haddock who got hot at the end of the season scoring 17, 13 and 18 in the Bruins’ final three games.

Although Haddock played well to end the season, Cherry Creek struggled down the stretch, losing four of its final six games, finishing with a 12-11 record.

“We have no common opponents and I really don’t know anything about them,” Schmalz said.

“But right now both teams are 0-0 and it is the best of one. If you win you get to keep playing and if you lose you are done.”


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