The Durango High School boys basketball team was down just one point with just under four minutes remaining against Montrose in Saturday afternoon’s contest at DHS, when a slew of turnovers turned the game on its head.
Montrose point guard Sean Alex stole a pass, and was intentionally fouled while he tried to drive to the basket. He converted the free throws and Montrose saw a 1-point lead expand and went on a late 7-0 run to close out Durango’s chances, as the Indians won, 48-41.
Montrose head coach Ryan Voehringer thought his team’s defense down the stretch changed the momentum of the game.
“Our backbone was bent at that point,” Voehringer said. “We knew we had to get stops, and rebound. We’re not very big, and we’re young with no seniors and some freshmen getting a lot of minutes, but I thought defensively, we played great. Our goal is to keep teams from scoring double-digits on us, and (Durango) scored 15 in the first quarter, but we turned it around from there, and really, late in the game, limited them to one shot per possession.”
Durango (8-8, 1-2 5A/4A Southwestern League) had plenty of chances to keep the game a one-possession game, but the Demons committed three key turnovers down the stretch and were unable to execute the big plays until it was too late.
“Our biggest key going into this game was to establish the inside game, and we did, but we got away from it a few times,” said DHS head coach Alan Batiste. “That was the difference; we had some turnovers that pretty much hurt us midway through the fourth, and we couldn’t recover.”
The Demons fed forward Martin Cuntz, who had a team-high 14 points in the loss, while fellow forward Al Hurworth had a quiet eight points. Hurworth, Cuntz and freshman Anthony Flint were the only players who scored in the fourth quarter.
Durango’s defense was unable to get the stops needed on multiple occasions, as the Indians closed the first half and scored on all five of their final possessions, and took a 26-24 lead at halftime. Then, after the locker room talk, Durango’s offense came to life and went on a 10-0 run midway through the third quarter, only to give up a 9-0 run of its own, as Montrose held a 1-point lead, 35-34, heading into the fourth quarter.
“Our defense was iffy the whole night, which is not like us,” Batiste said. “Usually, we’re able to string together some stops, but it just wasn’t happening tonight. I said at the break for my message, ‘the team that goes on the biggest run will win the game.’ They went on a few runs tonight, and that included the 6-0 run after the intentional foul, and they won the game.”
Montrose (9-7, 1-0 SWL) was led by freshman guard Luke Hutto, who scored 15 points, had five 2-point shots, and went 5-of-8 from the free-throw line, including 3-of-5 down the stretch.
“I thought Luke was fantastic today,” Voehringer said. “He’s had his ups and downs, but he’s very talented. He’s got a good left and right hand, and will only continue to get better from here. He’s learning through the process, and this is his first league game, plus it’s on the road and at Durango, but again, I was super impressed and can’t wait to see how he continues to develop in the league.”
In addition to Cuntz and Hurworth, DHS also got contributions from Flint, who finished with eight points while Cullen Robinette had six.
The Demons will travel to Bloomfield at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Bloomfield High School for its final non-conference game of the season.