After multiple weeks with most of its starting lineup injured, the Durango girls basketball team saw senior forward Carter Neiman and junior guard Lilly Fitzpatrick return to action.
As a result, the Demons snapped a four-game losing streak with a 49-18 home win against Grand Junction on Saturday afternoon.
Durango improved to 9-10 overall and 2-3 in 6A/5A Southwestern League play. Grand Junction fell to 6-15 overall and 0-6 in league play.
“We were really happy with everyone’s performance,” Demons coach Lauren Moran said. “It was a great team win. We got contributions from everybody that got into the game. Hopefully that’s a good confidence booster for the team as well.”
Fitzpatrick led the Demons with 13 points as well as at least five steals, while junior guard Mariah Maestas had 12 points. Carter Neiman and freshman Jaelyn Alston each scored eight points.
Harper Young led Grand Junction with six points.
Durango raced out to an 8-0 lead after a driving layup by Maestas. Fitzpatrick showed no signs that her ankle injury was slowing her down, making two of four free throws after being fouled on back-to-back possessions. The Demons led 10-1 after the first quarter.
Maya Sills got Grand Junction’s first basket plus a free-throw on an offensive rebound to start the second quarter.
Durango struggled to get some good looks in its offensive sets to start the second. There was a lot of dribbling and passing around the perimeter without much penetration. Moran called timeout with the Demons up 10-6 with 5:26 left before halftime.
A good look inside by Maestas to sophomore forward Ryne Neiman got the Demons in the scoring column again. Durango led 12-6 with five minutes left.
Durango had active hands on the defensive end, and the Demons’ lead increased to 17-6 following a bank shot inside by Maestas with 3:15 left in the second.
“Getting people back and healthy is huge,” Moran said. “Lilly and Carter in particular are so strong defensively that they’re going to help us on both the defensive and offensive end. It was really great to see them back and playing at 100%.”
The Demons were aggressive getting inside and crashing the glass to finish the quarter. Jaelyn Alston hit two free throws to push Durango’s lead to 21-8 with 44 seconds left. The Demons led 22-8 at halftime.
Durango continued to crash the glass to start the third. Maestas and Ellie White scored off offensive rebounds.
Fitzpatrick muscled in a tough layup to extend the lead to 31-11.
Both teams had no success from beyond the 3-point arc and did damage in the paint. Maestas made a great back cut and Fitzpatrick found her for the and-one basket. Maestas pushed the Demons’ lead to 33-14 with 1:20 to go in the third. Durango led 38-14 after three quarters.
The Demons continued to control the game in the fourth quarter and Moran started giving bench players some extra minutes.
After the girls game, there was a senior day celebration to honor both the seniors on the Durango girls and boys basketball squads. Carter and Adde Neiman are the only two seniors on the girls squad.
“Both Adde and Carter are great leaders,” Moran said. “They both have a great work ethic and they bring a lot of competitiveness. We’re going to miss tremendously their leadership, their defense, their competitive spirit and they’re both really good teammates.”
The girls are back in action 5:30 p.m. Monday in a rescheduled game against Grand Junction Central.