A whirlwind week ended with a victory to remember for the Durango High School girls basketball team.
Five seniors, who only five days earlier were in a quarantine after a close contact exposure to a fellow student who tested positive for COVID-19, returned to the floor Saturday for a special senior day against the Grand Junction Tigers. It came one day after a heartbreaking two-point loss to Fruita Monument.
Durango (5-7, 2-4 5A/4A Southwestern League) stormed out to a 17-4 lead after one quarter and kept up the pace to lead 33-5 at halftime. In the end, the five Durango seniors walked off the court at DHS for the final time with a 59-23 victory against the Tigers (2-9, 2-5 SWL).
“This is all we ever wanted; we just wanted to come back and play one last game on our home court,” said DHS senior guard Kyle Rowland. “It was a good team win going into next week. We came together to do it as a team, which is the most important thing.”
Brenna Wolf led Durango, as the senior scored 18 points, including seven in the first quarter. DHS head coach Tim Fitzpatrick praised Wolf’s defensive play, too.
“The whole goal was to have fun this game,” Wolf said. “Before the game, coach said, ‘Let’s not focus on Xs and Os. Let’s go out and have fun on senior day and just go out and play.’ We did that, and I think it was reflected in how well we played.”
Durango junior Sydney Flores scored 12 points, as did sophomore Mason Rowland. Seniors Maddy McManus and Kyle Rowland each scored six points.
The result was stunning after DHS had lost to the same Grand Junction team 38-35 earlier in the season. Saturday’s victory also came less than 24 hours after DHS dropped a 33-31 home game to Fruita Monument. It was Durango’s sixth loss by four points or less this season.
“Seeing the score now, it’s like, ‘How did we lose that first time?’ It felt really good to put the hammer to them and play to our potential,” McManus said. “We’ve been on this losing streak losing by two or three points to teams we know we can beat. It felt good to get a blowout win. Even though we may only have two games left, it feels like we are on a better path now.”
While the chance to make the Class 4A state tournament will be a longshot for the Demons with only two games to play in the shortened seven-week season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Demons are determined to go out strong with two final road games. They aim to play for each other and for coach Fitzpatrick.
“He has definitely been the most impactful person for all of us,” McManus said. “As freshmen, we were young and so intimidated by him. It was coach Fitzpatrick, you know he coaches high school basketball. To get to know him and become friends with him over the last four years, he told us this is the closest group of seniors he’s had, and we are close to him. On the court and off the court, he’s two different people, but he’s a wonderful guy who has taught us all so much.”
Though this season may come to a quick end Friday and Saturday at Grand Junction Central and Montrose, DHS was elated to leave its home court with wide smiles in a game played in front of two family members for each player.
“It’s a full circle after four years playing,” McManus said. “To have some parent support and have them cheering, it really makes a difference, even if it’s only 25 people. This was a special day, in a COVID kind of senior day.”