Three 3-pointers in the third quarter by Hunter Martin sealed a 70-58 victory for the Fruita Monument Wildcats on Tuesday night over Moffat County High School in the Bulldogs' season opener.
"He's the quarterback on the football team, so he has a lot of composure," Fruita coach Dave Fox said.
When Moffat County made a third-quarter surge, Martin walled the Bulldogs with his range.
"It was a good win for us," Fox said. "But it did get a little ragged at times."
The Bulldogs kept things close and traded leads with the Wildcats in the first half. Up 4-0 two minutes into the game, the Bulldogs' lead didn't last long as Martin went to work, hitting a 3 to put Fruita back in the game.
"We lost sight of No. 10," Bulldog coach Scott Parker said. "And that hurt us."
Tied 9-9, the Bulldogs got the go-ahead score from senior Evan Hertzog, who nailed a 3 with 2:49 left in the first quarter.
But Fruita answered and went on a 7-0 run to end the first, up 17-13.
The Bulldogs got things going on a third-chance bucket by junior Eli Buckner to start the second quarter after misses by Hertzog and junior J.T. Haddan, Buckner went up with the ball, missed, but was able to get the put-back for two.
At 5:37, tied 19-19, the Bulldogs had a turnover that could have cost them, but a jump ball was called on the play.
With a little more than three minutes to play in the second quarter, Fruita began to build its lead on a series of fouls by the Bulldogs.
Moffat County got back on its feet and pulled within four but went into the locker room at the half down 32-26.
If rebounding is what wins basketball games, Fruita did its job getting second-chance points.
"Sometimes we didn't box out at all," Buckner said.
The Bulldogs pulled within six, but that's as close as they would get, as the Wildcats continued to find the open man on the floor.
Martin "stopped our momentum," Parker said.
At 35-41, Haddan fouled Fruita junior Luke Snell hard in the paint, the bucket counted and so did Snell's free throw.
The Bulldogs started the fourth quarter with five misses. Fruita didn't have better luck, missing four out of its first five shots.
As Fruita's lead built to 14, the Bulldogs were unable to establish a rhythm on the floor because of foul trouble.
At 5:43 the Bulldogs took a timeout to collect their composure. It didn't help.
When the ball was put in play, Wildcat junior Corey Schultz got a tip and headed to the basket for the open layup.
Buckner worked to get the Bulldogs back into the game, but his two 3-pointers weren't enough.
Four fouls that led to Fruita free throws in the final four minutes gave the Wildcats the 12-point cushion needed for the victory.
Parker was disappointed with the loss, but also said he saw a lot of positives in the outcome.
"They were a tough opponent," Parker said. "And I'd rather play a strong 5A school than play down."
Parker said it was the first varsity game for six of the 10 players on the roster, and he saw promise in each player who got on the floor.
"There were lots of good pieces, we just need to put them together," Parker said.
- The Bulldogs had three players in double-digit scoring; Buckner led with 18, Hertzog had 12, and Peters chipped in 10 points.
- Fruita was led in scoring by Martin, who knocked down five 3-pointers and had 23 points.
- Moffat County had 21 turnovers compared to Fruita's 24.
- The Wildcats outrebounded the Bulldogs, 29-26.
- The Bulldogs are now 0-1 on the season and play their next game at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, hosting Grand Junction Central High School.