The Fruita Monument High School girls basketball team made the most of earning its way to the free throw line Friday night against Durango at DHS. They went 13-of-18 from the charity stripe in the first half and stalled the Demons’ offensive momentum en route to a 37-24 win.
DHS head coach Tim Fitzpatrick said the early free throws were huge in stopping his side’s momentum.
“You wouldn’t know we were playing in Durango at times tonight,” Fitzgerald said. “Yeah, they were on the foul line a lot, we fouled them a lot, and they capitalized on the foul shots. It’s really as simple as that.”
Durango (7-8, 0-1 5A/4A Southwestern League) got off to an early 6-2 lead, but the Demons got in foul trouble early. The Wildcats (11-4, 1-0 SWL) took their first lead at 8-7 with 4:58 left in the first quarter and never relinquished the lead. The Wildcats led 13-8 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second frame, DHS’ offense was unable to get anything going and had a six minute drought started in the first and finally ended with a basket from Maddy McManus with 5:50 remaining in the half. Durango would be held to just four points in the quarter and went into the locker room down 27-11. The teams combined for 20 fouls in the first half alone and the Wildcats took advantage. Fruita’s Emily Roberts led all scorers at half with seven points.
“We were really trying to feed the post tonight because we knew they’d be double-teaming and trapping Callie (Allen),” said Fruita head coach Michael Wells. “One of the things you try and do on the road is getting to the line and getting them in foul trouble. We made a concerted effort tonight and left it in the hands of the referees to make some tough calls, and we were fortunate to get to the line, and I think it messed up their rotation.”
In the third quarter, the Demon offense was able to hold the Wildcats to just four points and climbed back in it behind a 3-pointer from McManus, while Tayler Dossey scored three points the old-fashioned way with a basket and the foul. The Demons were down as many as 19 but saw Fruita’s lead drop to just 11 points. At the end of the quarter, the Wildcats led 31-20.
Durango got back into the game behind seven turnovers by the Wildcats.
“I thought we out-played them in the second half,” Fitzpatrick said. “We gave up a big 3-pointer coming out of the half, but otherwise, we executed much better on offense.”
Dossey scored four points in the frame, while Fitzgerald and McManus also helped DHS get back into the game.
“I was very proud of our effort to get back into this game, and I thought we had plenty of chances to get it under 10, we just couldn’t get that bucket,” Fitzpatrick said.
Durango started the final frame with two good looks from beyond the arc, but the shots did not fall. With under five minutes remaining, Roberts struck again as she scored the bucket and the foul to convert the 3-point play.
While the post-play proved effective for Fruita, Wells said he just wanted to leave the Demon Dome with a win.
“In the second half, it’s really just about a math problem, if we could run a minute or two off of the clock every time and get a basket as well, it’s huge,” Wells said. “It’s not the prettiest style of offense, but it shortens the game and limits their opportunities by that much. Durango is a good team and no lead is every safe, so I am just happy to get out of here with a win.”
Fitzpatrick said that Fruita has been the best team in the league for the last four seasons for a reason, but he thought his team showed fight.
“They’ve won the last four championships and are the team and program to beat,” Fitzpatrick said. “It was a good measuring stick, but we have to keep plugging away. We played hard, and while we missed a lot of easy shots that could’ve gotten us back into this game, we still showed heart. This team works hard and we will continue to do so.”
Durango was led by McManus, who finished with eight points, while Dossey had seven. Roberts led the way with 13 points, while Lila Dere finished with 12.
The Demons will take on Grand Junction Central at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, in Grand Junction.
Fruita Monument 49, Durango 31The Durango High School boys basketball team was held to under its key threshold of 40 points for the third consecutive game on Friday night and fell to Fruita, 49-31.
The Wildcats (12-4, 1-0 SWL) controlled the glass and had 25 of their 49 points come from second-chance opportunities.
Fruita head coach Ryan Hayden said that, along with junior forward Ian Barnes’ 20-point performance, was the difference against a ‘talented Durango team.’
“I thought we didn’t have a lot going for us in that first quarter and early in the second,” said Hayden. “Ian was keeping us in the game on the offensive glass and was keeping Al (Hurworth) in foul trouble, which was huge for us.”
The Demons (7-7, 1-1 SWL) cut the Wildcats’ lead down to eight in the fourth quarter, but Fruita responded with a 6-0 run to keep the game out of reach.
“A 14- to 16-point lead at that point is just too much to come back from at the high school level,” said DHS head coach Alan Batiste. “Offensive rebounding hurt us in the first half, but we did a lot better in that third and fourth quarter. The boys executed every play, the shots just didn’t fall. We don’t need to go back to the lab, we just need those shots to start falling. Because three games of under 40 points? That can’t happen if we want to really compete in this league.”
Cullen Robinette had nine points for DHS while Martin Cuntz finished with eight and Anthony Flint had six.
Durango will host Shiprock at 7 p.m. Tuesday at DHS.
Wolverines postponedThe Bayfield High School boys and girls basketball teams’ games set for Friday night against rivals Alamosa were postponed due to a snowstorm that hit Alamosa on Friday.
As a result, BHS’ 3A Intermountain league schedule will begin on Saturday. The Wolverines host Montezuma-Cortez, with the girls tipping off at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at BHS, while the boys will start at 3 p.m. Saturday also at BHS.
No date has been announced for the make-up games.