The Salida High School boys’ basketball team started the new year right where it left off in 2019 – beating La Junta 62-49 Saturday at home to improve to 2-0 in the 3A Tri-Peaks League.
“It was really good to get a win coming off of the break and start off right,” Salida head coach Donnie Kaess said.
The Spartans improved to 5-3 overall with the win while La Junta slipped to 4-7, 2-2.
Junior Myles Godina provided Salida’s highlight of the night early in the third quarter. The 6-foot, 4-inch player got behind La Junta’s defense, leapt up and slam dunked the ball, pumping up the crowd and his teammates with the effort.
“That was good; it gets the kids pumped up,” Kaess said. “It was neat for him to get one.”
The coach said he thought it had probably been 10 years since a Spartan had dunked the ball in a game.
The Spartans were flying around early and after two buckets from Godina, junior Elijah Roberts hit a 3-pointer to put Salida up 7-3. La Junta, however, hit four 3s in the first quarter to stay close to the Spartans, trailing 15-14 after one.
Junior Jonah Ellis sank one from behind the arch to start the second then added a pair of free throws to extend Salida’s lead to 6 points, 20-14. La Junta added two more 3s in the second, but Salida took a 33-21 lead into the break.
“La Junta made a lot of 3s in the first half,” Kaess said. “That’s why we came out of zone and went to man.”
La Junta stayed within 13 points of Salida the rest of the way, but didn’t come any closer than 8.
Ellis and Godina also connected on an alley-oop layup in the fourth quarter, giving SHS a 55-43 lead.
“I thought they played pretty good, but I wasn’t real happy with our free-throw shooting at the end,” Kaess said. “We let them stay in it when I felt we could have walked away with it.”
Salida only made nine of 19 attempts from the free-throw line in the fourth and went 14-for-27 in the game.
Godina and Ellis both scored 14 points to lead Salida. Junior Leif Gislason and senior Nico Granzella each scored 9 points. Junior Max Ferguson scored 6, sophomore Aaron Morgan scored 4, Roberts added 3 and senior R.J. Clayton scored 3 in his first game of the season.
“We did a good job sharing the ball,” Kaess said. The coach also said it was “good” to get Clayton back in the lineup after he missed the first part of the season with an injury. “He gave us some quality minutes,” Kaess said.
Ellis also had five steals and seven rebounds in the game while Gislason pulled down 10 rebounds.
Salida’s junior varsity won by 16 points, and the C-team won by 35 points.
The Spartans will play twice against league foes this week. Salida will visit Colorado Springs Christian School (4-4, 0-1) at 7 p.m. Friday and then return home to host Trinidad (1-8, 0-2) at 3 p.m. Saturday.