Prep notes: Vista Ridge boys' hoops growing up

 

Vista Ridge boys' hoops growing up

Good things are coming to the Vista Ridge boys' basketball program. And by good things you can assume we mean wins.

Vista Ridge isn't banging down state championship doors just yet, but the young program that has just one senior has a couple significant wins to hang their collective hat on and several other near misses.

Tuesday night was one of those big wins. The Wolves (6-8 overall, 2-3 4A Pikes Peak Athletic Conference) managed just 11 points in the first half before rallying from a six-point deficit to win 43-35 over Palmer Ridge, a team that's been ranked in the state's Class 4A top 10 for a good portion of the season.

That victory was the Wolves' second in conference. The first came against Cheyenne Mountain, a program first, according to third-year coach Joe Hites.

"I like what we're doing defensively," Hites said Wednesday. "I think we're trying to keep games in range. ... We try to keep it competitive and see what we get at the end."

The Wolves haven't been out of a lot of games. In the team's eight losses, they've fallen by a total of 51 points, an average of 6.4 points per game. Only three times have the Wolves lost by double digits. In fact, in the other five defeats, they've lost by a combined 17 points, or just over three points per game.

"They know that in the games that we lost there were some reasons and factors we could've done a whole lot better," Hites said. "But they come every day in practice and do a good job and they're growing up. ... It's kind of neat to watch."

Regardless of where the Wolves end up this season - and playoffs are definitely on their minds - Hites has plenty to look forward to.

A pair of sophomores lead the team in scoring. Hunter Maldonado averages 19.9 points per game and Noah Beatty is at 9.9. Junior Robert Fernandez isn't far behind at 9.6.

The team has been patient and understands that things won't change overnight. They've been willing to work for their goals and that's something Hites has truly enjoyed.

"It's a good group of kids that trust what we're trying to do," he said.

 

Metro championships offer city wrestling bragging rights

The 15th annual Colorado Springs Metro Wrestling Championships will be at Doherty this weekend.

The two-day tournament (it starts Friday and concludes Saturday evening) offers about two dozen schools the chance to lay claim as the city's top wrestling program.

Pine Creek is the defending champion. Last season the Eagles claimed their fifth team title, more than one-third of the previous 14 meets. Sophomore Jordan Martinez (113 pounds) and senior Taylor White (285) are returning individual champs for the Eagles.

Other returning Metro champions expected to compete are Discovery Canyon's Sam Turner (also a defending state champion), Coronado's Jess Hankin (another state champion) and Lewis-Palmer's Joey Neumann.

More than 70 wrestlers ranked by On the Mat will compete in this year's meet, according to a press release from USA Wrestling. The release also stated up to 27 teams could take part, with the majority from Colorado Springs.

The tournament starts Friday at 4:30 p.m. It resumes Saturday at 9 a.m. with finals scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

 

Sierra turning it around

After three losses in its first five games, the Sierra boys' basketball team looked to be headed for a rough season.

But the Stallions have gone on quite a roll.

They have won eight straight and opened with a 5-0 record in the 5A Colorado Springs Metro League.

And the league wins haven't been close for the Stallions. Their closest margin of victory in conference is a 26-point victory over Mesa Ridge.

The Stallions have proven to be plenty balanced. Tevion Thompson averages 14.8 points per game and Ke'andre Lewis is averaging 13.9. Four other players average between four and eight points.

The one team that looks like it could be a threat to the Stallions from running away with the conference crown is Widefield.

The Gladiators are 12-2 overall, but even they suffered a loss in league when they fell to Mesa Ridge.

Widefield will get its shot against Sierra on Tuesday.

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