Jerry McBride/Durango Herald
Welcome to the jungle.
Instead of fun and games, this one features the turnover bug, shooting miasma and foul-trouble quicksand.
And it didn’t take long for the Durango High School girls basketball team to get mired down in the swamp that was the DHS gymnasium Saturday afternoon.
The bugs and the vapor found Grand Junction, too, but the Tigers managed to circumnavigate the jungle for the first half to build a 22-10 lead with a lot of help from the free throw line.
Grand Junction beat its Southestern League opponent 41-26.
Everyone except Durango’s Emily McCue, who scored all but seven of the Demons’ points, wilted in the vigor-sapping tropical swelter.
“We gave ourselves an intensity rating, and they decided we were a four,” DHS head coach Nancy Smith said. “We had some moments of eights and some moments of nines.
“Against teams up in the Grand Junction area, if you don’t play a 10 all game, they’re going to take advantage of you.”
The Demons tried to crank their defensive intensity up early, swatting the turnover bug to the Tigers. Durango forced 15 first-half turnovers but couldn’t shake the bug themselves, converting too many of their steals into unforced turnovers of their own. The Demons had 14 in the first half to finish with 24 total, just short of the Tigers’ total 26.
And if the Demons’ energy level only averaged a four, three parts of that were channeled into their hands instead of their feet.
“Too much reaching,” Smith said.
“I just think we were slow,” said Shanelle Bogus, daughter of Mike and Wendi Bogus. “Our warm-up was rough ... and of course, we practice like we play.”
The Demons gifted the Tigers with the foul-shot bonus early in the second quarter after racking up nearly a foul a minute.
“They’ve got a couple really quick players, so when they drive to the middle, we step and slap,” Smith said.
Grand Junction made them pay, too, scoring seven of their 22 first-half points from the line.
Sydni Brandon hit five of the first-half free throws, and she finished with eight points to lead the Tigers on the game. Elisha Jahnke and Brianna Baldwin each added seven for Grand Junction.
The shooting miasma dragged all shooters down, but Grand Junction tallied seven offensive rebounds in the first half to Durango’s one, so the Tigers got to miss, miss, then make to build the 12-point halftime gap that kept the game from ever getting interesting, despite a strong second half from the Demons.
From McCue, rather.
“Emily just decided she was tired of getting beat,” Smith said. “She caught fire.”
The 5-11 senior scored 15 of her 19 points in the second half, taking over under the basket and hitting a 3.
“I was just trying to be aggressive,” said McCue, daugher of Frank and Julie McCue.
The Demons lost the second half by three points; McCue lost it by four. Bogus scored the Demons’ only other point of the second half to finish with a team-second three total.
“I think we’re finding out too late that we can play with teams,” McCue said.
Durango (11-8, 4-6 SWL) will play in the Western Slope district tournament next weekend, game times to be announced. A good showing there among Class 4A teams could secure the Demons a spot in the state playoffs, she said.