Herrera reaches 1K points in Titans’ win over Bruins
Taking full advantage of a 19-5 second quarter scoring run, the Coal Ridge Titans overcame a shaky start on Tuesday night at home to post a 64-43 victory over the Cedaredge Bruins in 3A Western Slope League district tournament quarterfinal contest.
“They [Cedaredge] came out really well, and I think we were a little tight,” Coal Ridge Head Coach Paul Harvey said. “We’ve been reminding the kids that they have a target on their backs, and they are going to get everyone’s best shot. It all starts with defense though, and we started to play defense.”
The Bruins’ best shot came from 6-foot-6-inch senior center Peter Carlson, who hit a couple of 3-pointers, an inside basket, and a free throw as Cedaredge jumped out quickly to a 9-0 lead.
Coal Ridge big man, 6-foot-7-inch junior center Kevin DiMarco, answered with a couple of free throws and then put down a two-handed dunk from the baseline off an assist from guard Jan Hernandez to get the Titans on the board.
Senior center Connor Detlefsen grabbed a rebound off a Brandon Herrera miss and put the ball gently back in the hoop as the Titans trailed 13-10 after one period.
Coal Ridge’s big second quarter proved to be decisive as senior Brody Morgan got things started with a pass fake and a score on a lefty layup. DiMarco got an old fashioned 3-point play as he scored off a steal, was fouled, and then converted the ensuing free throw.
Junior forward Payton White scored on a twisting reverse layup and Hernandez hit two 3-pointers, one from long range just prior to the halftime buzzer to give the Titans a 29-18 advantage at the break.
The Bruins weren’t quite ready to give up on the season just yet, as Carlson would hit a couple more 3-pointers, while sophomore guard Fabian Barron scored on a drive to the basket, and junior Jared Reynolds flipped in a jumper as Cedaredge crept to within 37-32 at the 2:34 mark of the third period.
DiMarco began to take charge inside at that point, as he hit two key inside baskets — one off a strong drop-step to the hoop, and Detlefsen — standing at 6 feet, 8 inches — scored a shot off the glass to put Coal Ridge up 52-40 with 3:34 to go in the game.
Aside from the victory, the highlight moment of the evening came just prior to the final buzzer when Herrera lofted a 3-pointer from the left side of the arc that found the bottom of the net as the horn sounded, scoring his 1,000th career point as a Titan.
The crowd erupted in jubilation, and Herrera, along with the rest of the Titans, was all smiles.
“It was a lot to think about coming into this game. It took a lot off my chest to hit that shot,” Herrera said. “I can relax now and play like I normally do.”
Coal Ridge had several contributors in the tournament win, as DiMarco led the way with 20 points.
Hernandez added 12 points, and Herrera scored 11 points. White and Detlefsen chipped in with 8 and 7 points, respectively.
Coal Ridge (18-2, 9-0 3A WSL) now moves on to the semifinals of the 3A Western Slope League district tournament at 8:30 p.m. on Friday night at Grand Junction Central High School against the rival Grand Valley Cardinals.
The Titans beat the Cardinals, 68-59, on Jan. 30 in New Castle, which was the only matchup between the two teams this season.