Montrose forward Ally Nichols knew going into Friday’s home game against Grand Junction Central that she and teammate Caraline Burwell could impose their will down in the post.
And impose their will they did.
Nichols scored a game-high 12 points; Burwell had eight, while Josie Eccher also added eight, and connected on two 3-pointers, as the Montrose girls basketball team (17-4; 5-1 in Southwestern League) won the game, 38-19.
“Last time we played them, we hit a lot of post-looks like that,” Nichols said. “And we came in with the mentality that that's what it’s going to take.”
“They had the definite advantage tonight,” coach Steve Skiff said, of Nichols and Burwell. “And they took advantage.”
The Lady Indians once again showed off their textbook defense as they allowed five points in the first half which included zero in the second quarter.
Thankfully, the defense was on display early on as the offense struggled in the first two periods, Skiff said.
“We missed some easy shots that we normally make,” he said. “But, man, our defense plays. To hold them to five points in a half that’s saying something. That’ll keep you in a lot of games.”
Montrose certainly needed its defense early on after Central led the home team, 5-4, at the end of the first period. The Lady Indians would take the lead for good in the second quarter with a 9-0 scoring effort
Montrose led 13-5 at the break.
Nichols and Burwell went to work in the second half as the duo scored 18 of their 20 combined points in the last two quarters.
It helped the hosts as they obtained a double-digit advantage that they kept for the rest of the way. The Lady Indians outscored the Warriors, 12-6 and 13-8, in third and fourth quarters, respectively.
In the last few minutes of the ballgame, Skiff dipped into his bench as all 12 athletes received some playing time.
Skiff said he was proud of his players’ performance because the Central game could have been a trap game for the Lady Indians as they face an even more important contest next week.
“I thought we played extremely hard tonight and I’m happy with the effort,” he said.
Montrose will have its biggest game of the season at 6 p.m. Tuesday, when the Lady Indians welcome the Fruita Monument Wildcats (19-2; 5-1 in SWL as of Friday). The only blemish on the Lady Indians’ league record came to a 44-39 loss to the Wildcats on Feb. 4.
Tuesday’s game will more than likely determine the league winner.
But that’s not the only thing on tap Tuesday — the contest will be Senior Night for Montrose and honor the team’s eight seniors.
“I think that will be helpful for us having so many seniors,” Nichols said. “Everybody wants to win and we know we can beat that team.”
“If we want to repeat as league champions, we’re going to have to beat them,” Skiff said. “That’s the way you want it. … We’ve got to come out and ready to play like we did tonight.”