Nichols lifts No. 10 Montrose girls hoops to late win over Fruita Monument, league title

(Christina Martin/ Montrose Daily Press)

MONTROSE — Ally Nichols scored what proved to be the winning basket with nine seconds left as No. 10 Montrose girls basketball edged Fruita Monument on Friday.

Montrose won, 45-44, and has clinched the Southwestern League title.

Nichols finished with a team-high 14 points.

"What a great win for my team and a great win for the seniors on Senior night," Montrose coach Steve Skiff said. "It was a complete team effort and before the game we talked about going out there relaxed and play basketball. The girls did a great job of executing the game plan and playing a complete game on both ends of the floor.

"It was a great atmosphere in the gym tonight and we are looking forward to the state playoffs next week."

Kennadie Minerich added 11 points for Montrose, and Michaela Ladage had seven.

"Fruita has always been a really tough rival for us," Minerich said. "So we've always had to come out really strong and play together. Coach Wells is an incredible coach and he had a strong game plan for us. We came out and had to make some adjustments very quickly especially against a strong team like them. With their personnel we had to work so much harder on both ends of the floor.

"Ally Nichols stepped up big and was able to battle down low and make a quick shot to put us ahead."

The win means Montrose, Fruita Monument and Grand Junction all finished tied atop the Southwestern League standings at 5-3. Among the tied teams, Montrose is 3-1, Grand Junction is 2-2 and Fruita Monument is 1-3. As a result, Montrose has won the league title.

Montrose jumped out to an 8-0 lead to start the game, but Fruita Monument roared back to tie the game at 9-9 after the first quarter.

The game remained close in the second quarter. With the game tied at 23, Nichols scored to put the Indians ahead 25-23 at halftime.

Montrose built a 29-23 lead to start the third quarter, but again the Wildcats rallied. They took at 35-31 lead going into the fourth quarter.

This time, it was Montrose who rallied, as they went ahead 36-35.

It came down to the end. Nichols scored with nine seconds left, giving Montrose a 45-44 lead. Fruita Monument couldn't answer one final time, as Montrose held on.

Kylie Wells led Fruita Monument with 15 points.

"Great battle all game in a tough environment, just came up one point short," Fruita Monument coach Michael Wells said. "Time to move on to the playoffs, everyone starts 0-0 and it's a new season."