Youth key as Tigers top Sinner, Wildcats

Youth key as Tigers top Sinner, Wildcats

The 3-point shot from NBA range likely intimidated some opposing fans.

It would intimidate most high school players.

“It intimidated a high school coach,” Grand Junction girls basketball coach Sam Provenza said Friday, “I’ll tell you that.”

Fruita Monument guard Jessica Sinner, though, didn’t blink, nailing a matter-of-fact 25-footer in the second quarter.

But host Grand Junction didn’t sulk or even take a play off en route to a 56-36 victory to open Southwestern League play.

“I think it’s awesome that a lot of people talk about how young our team is and we showed poise and control,” said Grand Junction guard Jamie Derrieux, who scored a game-high 18 points. “We were ahead in the game and we played like we were ahead.”

Sinner’s 3 left Fruita down 28-22.

Grand Junction (11-3, 1-0 SWL) responded with a free throw and a Derrieux layup.

“We encourage each other,” Derrieux said. “We just tell each other, ‘You’re fine.’ “

Tigers center Holly Meer may have wiped away any residue from Sinner’s big shot. A beat before the halftime buzzer, she hooked a shot off the glass to put the Tigers ahead 33-22.

Junction was much more than the talented Derrieux. Freshman Sydni Brandon had 12 points, including numerous layups on fastbreaks in which she simply sprinted past the Wildcats’ back line.

Also, Shafer Rubalcaba had nine points for the Tigers.

Sarah Wilkinson, a 6-foot sophomore, dropped in nine as well. She matched up and handled Fruita Monument’s above-average height.

“We took it hard to the rim and we wanted to get fouled and take free throws,” Wilkinson said.

The Tigers got what they wanted, attempting 40 freebies, hitting 26 of them.

Derrieux and Brandon typically did not have open lanes to the basket. Instead, they showcased a common move. While dribbling to the basket, they stutter-stepped. Or paused. And then they accelerated, leaving the defender leaning forward.

“I’ve watched (Derrieux) since fifth grade,” Brandon said. “I definitely got that move from her.”

Fruita Monument (5-7, 0-1) was led by Kassidy Fair’s 11 points. Sinner and Lauren LaBonde had 10 each.

Fruita attempted 11 free throws — 29 fewer than the Tigers.

“We just didn’t make shots,” Fruita coach Dan Schmalz said. “And we didn’t get to the foul line as much and I’d have liked.”

Grand Junction was simply beating Fruita downcourt, one girl followed by another, as though it were a track-and-field relay meet.

“Their post players were sprinting back ahead of us,” Schmalz said.

Perhaps more long-range 3s from Sinner would have kept Fruita going.

“I want her to shoot,” Schmalz said. “I have tons of confidence in her abilities. She needs to shoot.”


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