The Durango High School boys basketball team saw its chances to win a share of a league title disappear as fast as its lead Friday.
After leading 14-7 after one quarter and 22-17 at halftime, the Durango Demons fell 40-39 in a tough home loss to Fruita Monument.
“Our offense was a little stagnant,” DHS head coach Alan Batiste said. “When your leading scorer isn’t scoring, you try to find other buckets. We kept trying to get the ball to big Walter Stauffer down low, but they were sending three guys on him. Our guards got frustrated trying to force the ball in and seeing three blue jerseys sitting on him. It was hard to get it to him, but when we did we scored.”
Stauffer scored eight points in the first quarter to help DHS (6-5, 2-3 5A/4A Southwestern League) build a lead, and he finished with 13 points in the game. Dylan Bettin played a big role with a game-high 16 points for DHS with three made 3-pointers.
Fruita (5-5, 3-3 SWL) contained DHS junior guard Anthony Flint by holding him to seven points and none in the fourth quarter. Flint got a chance at the game-winning shot, but his contested attempt in the lane was no good.
“He took a drive in the final seconds. It’s hard on the refs when you put it in their hands to call a foul or not,” Batiste said. “They played decent defense. We drew up a play, it just didn’t go in.”
DHS missed the defensive play of senior Sam Johnson, who will return to the lineup at 2 p.m. Saturday against Grand Junction. Batiste said Johnson creates a lot of turnovers that get the Demons’ offense out in transition, which they lacked Friday.
“When we get turnovers and get in transition, we’re a great team,” Batiste said. “We didn’t get those tonight, and our offense got stale.”
Connor Laible hit a big 3 in the fourth quarter for Fruita and finished with 11 points. Cole Savage finished with 14 points for the Wildcats.
DHS has three games left on the schedule with the home finale Saturday against the Tigers (6-5, 3-3 SWL).
“As far as league goes, you always want that championship,” Batiste said. “Now, we just have to try to win our next three games to get into the playoffs. This has been the fastest season ever. Our boys have to give their all for each other. Nothing is guaranteed past next Saturday with only 32 teams making the playoffs this year.”