MONUMENT • Luke Stratman and his D’Evelyn teammates leaped and hugged and shouted while Jordan Scott and his Lewis-Palmer teammates trudged off the court. L-P’s 34-game win streak had been destroyed by Stratman’s 36-point bombardment, but you get the feeling this game is the beginning, not the end, of a thrilling high school basketball story.
“We’d love to see them again,” Stratman said a few minutes after he celebrated on L-P’s home court. “That was a fun game.”
Stratman was smiling as he talked.
Scott was battling tears after a 73-68 loss.
“I want a rematch,” Scott said. “They beat us on our court. They celebrated on our court. Now it’s our turn to get ours.”
It could happen. I cannot see the future, but a Lewis-Palmer-D’Evelyn skirmish deep in the state 4A playoffs seems likely, if not inevitable.
This was a stupendous high school game with plenty of star power. Stratman is a 6-foot (maybe) senior who averages 29 points. L-P’s Rangers tried everything to stop him, but never really even slowed him down.
His performance adds to one of the great basketball mysteries of our time. Stratman is a dominating high school player. When he’s on, he can’t be guarded. If you don’t believe me, just ask anyone on the Lewis-Palmer squad.
He will play baseball next season at Washington State after failing to get a firm scholarship offer from Colorado, CSU or Northern Colorado. This makes no sense to me. This makes no sense to anyone who watched Thursday’s game.
Stratman starts looking to launch the instant he crosses half-court. He dropped 3s from 28 feet, 26 feet and 25 feet while willing his team to a win over the much taller Rangers.
Midway through the third quarter, L-P looked in control. Justin Smith, who will play for Idaho State next season, rose a foot above the rim for a dunk, and Scott followed with a layup. The Rangers led, 50-45, and a 35th straight win looked probable.
But Stratman opened the fourth quarter by sinking three straight 3s, the final one right in front of his own bench. His onslaught gave D’Evelyn a 60-58 lead, and the Rangers never recovered.
When the game ended, D’Evelyn coach Troy Pachner’s first impulse was to quickly usher his players off the court. Pachner is a wise man. He did not want to give inspiration to a powerful opponent.
But D’Evelyn students stormed the court, surrounded Stratman and his teammates and soon a party burst out.
“We know how special they are,” Pachner said of Lewis-Palmer, the defending state champs.
This loss should serve as a challenge to the Rangers. Lewis-Palmer has every reason to believe it can repeat as state champs. The team is tall, deep and athletic, but it needs a dose of D’Evelyn’s freewheeling, improvisational spirit. Tentative will not win another title.
Memories of this loss will sting the Rangers. The invaders from suburban Denver swiped a win and celebrated on the state champ’s court.
“This will give us a little motivation,” Scott said.
Hate to disagree. This will give the Rangers an immense amount of motivation.