MONUMENT - Joel Scott had never attempted a windmill dunk in a game, though you would have never known it.

On a third-quarter fast break, the Lewis-Palmer senior explosively tomahawked it flawlessly.

“I do it all the time in practice,” Scott said. “I was like, I’m going to go get this and try it and just go for it.”

The top-seeded Rangers put themselves in position to be adventurous Wednesday night with their defensive effort in a 74-19 suffocation of No. 17 Greeley Central in the Class 4A round of 16.

Lewis-Palmer (25-0) jumped to a 31-2 lead. It also held the Wildcats scoreless through the first 6 ½ minutes of the third quarter, taking a 50-point lead and a running clock into the fourth quarter.

The Rangers — with the tallest lineup in northern El Paso County, including Air Force — didn’t just rely on their height against guard-oriented Greeley Central. They took seven charges and, though stats were not available, easily reached double figures in blocked shots.

“Our size worked because we were in the right spot,” coach Bill Benton said. “If we were late recovering or if we were gambling then we’re probably putting them on the free-throw line instead of bottling them up.”

The lid never came off that bottle as Scott scored 22 points and Ethan Forrester had 11.

Greeley Central (16-10) coach Tony Graefe said goodbye to four seniors he said resuscitated the program after it had dipped to a 5-41 over a two-year stretch before they took large roles as sophomores. The team had improved from 6 to 11 to 16 wins over the past three seasons.

Then it hit this juggernaut.

“It’s not just the height,” Graefe said. “They’ve got everything. First of all they’re just so well-prepared. They are long, but they’re also just so fundamentally sound. They shoot the ball well. They share the ball. They’re just a really, really good team. We knew that going in. We knew we were going to have to have our best game, and we were going to have to get a break. And things went exactly as they shouldn’t have gone early.”

Lewis-Palmer is also seeking improvement.

The program has gone 97-10 over the past four seasons; the first three of those ended with losses in the championship game.

Now, this program that is loaded with nine seniors — five of whom expect to play collegiately at at least the NCAA Division II level — who have played together since elementary school.

Benton said the group is special because they hold each other accountable and are willing to be held to account. And that was on display Wednesday with defensive stalking that just didn’t stop.

“It just helps with our energy,” Forrester said. “We try not to relax, but just keep the foot on the pedal. But it makes things more fun.”

Lewis-Palmer won back-to-back state titles in 2012 and ’13. Those Rangers teams featured Benton as an assistant and Joel Scott watching his older brothers, Josh and Jordan.

With the effort Lewis-Palmer displayed Wednesday in a game that was in hand within the first 8 minutes, it seems this pair is determined to get the program back to the top.

“Our coach always says we have to be the hunters, not the hunted,” Scott said. “We always have a target on our back, being the No. 1 seed, but we’ve got to go out and hunt every night while having fun doing it.”

comments powered by Disqus