GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. After failing to make it out of the second round last year, the Grand Junction Tigers are heading to the 5A Sweet 16 after defeating Monarch 53-49.
The Tigers (22-2) had a difficult time defending a talented Monarch (17-8) team through most of the first half, and were down 28-21 at the break.
The opening minutes of the third quarter proved to be the difference, as they came out on an 8-0 run. The Tigers also switched up their defensive scheme to a tight man-to-man that kept the Coyotes scoreless for the first four minutes of the second half.
Despite just a seven-girl rotation, their energy climbed throughout the final quarters. The offensive trio of Sydni Brandon, Tori Catlett and Elisha Jahnke gave the Tigers the lead and they held onto it for the 53-49 win.
"You could see it in their eyes in the locker room at halftime," head coach Sam Provenza said. "We told them the first three minutes are probably going to be the most important three minutes of the season for them, and we went ahead at 4:55 which means they bought into it, and they delivered defensively."
After failing to make it out of the second round in 2013, they'll be heading back to the Sweet 16.
Tuesday they'll head to Fort Collins to face Poudre, the number two seed in their region. Friday night, Poudre dominated Legend 54-30, though, that score is misleading because they led 43-9 at the end of the third quarter.