Grand senior Shailee Croasmun brings the ball up the floor against Green River on Tuesday, Nov. 26 in Moab. She finished with a game-high 23 points as the Lady Devils defeated the pirates 73-34. [Photo by Dustee Chappell / Moab Sun News]

Seniors Shailee Croasmun and Alena Geiser combined for 44 points to help lead the Lady Devils to a season-opening 73-34 victory over Green River in the Devils’ Den on Tuesday, Nov. 26.

The duo set the tone early on, accounting for all 19 of Grand’s first-quarter points as Geiser opened the game hitting back-to-back three-pointers on her way to 12 points in the frame while Croasmun added 7, including a three-pointer of her own, giving the Lady Devils a 19-7 lead.

Grand extended its lead to 43-16 by going on an 8-0 run at the end of the second quarter. Geiser scored nine points in the quarter to bring her tally to 21, while Croasmun added six, all from the free-throw line. Former Pirate Sadie Hansen, a junior, scored five points in the quarter against her former team and sophomores Symony Call and Talaunee Croasmun added two apiece.

In the third quarter, Grand picked up where it left off, scoring the period’s first four points on buckets from freshman Sarah Day and senior Alex Gomez before the Pirates hit a three-pointer to end the run. Grand, however, continued to steadily add to its lead as Shailee Croasmun scored ten points in the quarter, junior Brook Schultz hit back-to-back buckets late and Call added two points to give the Lady Devils a 63-27 lead. Shailee Croasmun sat out most of the fourth quarter, finishing with 23 points and Geiser sat out most of the second half in foul trouble and didn’t add to her 21 first-half points before fouling out early in the fourth quarter.

Shailee Croasmun, who averaged 7.25 points per game for the Carbon Dinos in 2012-13, eclipsed her previous career high of 19 points in her first game as a Lady Devil.

“It’s exciting,” she said. “I’ve never scored that high in a game, so especially with the move, being at a new school, it means a lot.”

The Lady Devils coasted to victory in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Pirates 10-7 in the frame as Hansen and Schultz each scored 4 points and Call added 2 more to give Grand County a 73-34 victory.

Hansen finished with 9 points, Schultz finished with 8 and Call added 6 for Grand County.

The Lady Devils were also scheduled to play host to Pinnacle Academy, whom they defeated twice last season for their only two victories of 2012-13. Grand’s highest total score in 2012-13 was 44 points against Pinnacle, which they nearly matched by the end of the first half Tuesday against Green River.

“We had no idea we’d be able to come out and put up that many points,” Grand girls basketball coach Tony Chacon said. “Overall I was very pleased, especially with the defense. A big shot in the arm for us was Alena Geiser scoring 21 points in the first half.”

Chacon added that playing as a team was key in Tuesday’s win.

“Everyone played their roles well,” he said. “We’ve been preaching in practice ‘know your role.’ Not everyone is going to score a lot of points. We need strong defenders and strong re-bounders, too. Everybody needs to be a threat.”

Chacon said the victory will give the Lady Devils a confidence boost, especially the seniors who have been on the team the past three seasons.

“Our seniors, they’ve not been to successful the last few seasons and they really want to play well,” he said. “A game like this will get the team believing in what the coaches are telling them.”

After Tuesday’s game against Pinnacle, Grand’s embarks on a road trip that extends the rest of 2013, beginning with a rematch against Green River on Wednesday, Dec. 11.

“Give Green River a lot of credit,” Chacon said. “Their coach is a good friend of mine and he always prepares his teams well. I think he only had 11 or 12 girls come out so they’ve been struggling with that. I expect a totally different effort when we go down there.”

Chacon said his goals for the Lady Devils are to win at least half of their region games and make the playoffs, but more importantly, to establish an identity.

“I want them to known to fight tooth and nail until the last whistle blows. Nobody is going to step onto a gym floor with them and expect an easy victory,” he said. “A win like this can propel you into making people believe in what you’re doing. We’d like everyone to come out and see how hard we’ve worked; see the improvement. They want respect back in the community.”

Shailee Croasmun agreed the Lady Devils have come a long way since the first day of practice.

“I think the team has gotten a lot better at working together,” she said. “With so many new people it’s hard meshing because we don’t know each others’ tendencies and styles of play, but I think we’ll continue to improve. We have a really good team and we’re going to exceed a lot of expectations.”

After the rematch with Green River, the Lady Devils will play at least three more road games before returning to the Devils’ Den Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014 against Monticello. They play the Buckaroos in Monticello on Saturday, Dec. 14, Dove Creek in Dove Creek, Colo., on Thursday, Dec. 19 and at the Wayne County Invitational in Bicknell on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 27 and 28. They open region play following their home tilt with Buckaroos when they play host to Wasatch Academy on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014.

“Everyone played their roles well. We’ve been preaching in practice ‘know your role.’”

First game hints at strong season