Again, last season’s role players put on another star performance for the boys’ basketball team at Colorado Springs Christian School.
Drew Wilbur scored 11 of his 17 points in the third quarter to tame a Manitou Springs rally, before the host Lions scored nine of their 12 fourth-quarter points from the charity stripe to hold off the Mustangs 48-39 Friday night.
“These guys have worked hard and it has started since April. We are a lot deeper than we were last season,” said CSCS coach Mark Engesser, whose Lions were undefeated last season before they were stunned in the Great Eight by Holy Family. “Now we may not have the talent that Nate (Engesser) and Kyle (Broekhuis) gave us, but now we don’t have to go through just them. We have eight guys who can score the ball.”
Friday, one of the eight guys, Wilbur, played like a star when the Lions (12-2 overall, 7-0 3A Tri-Peaks West) needed it most.
“I was the third guy last year,” said Wilbur, who acknowledged he was a role player last season to seniors Broekhuis and Engesser, who totaled more than 70 percent of the Lions’ scoring. “Now I’m one of the guys who makes us go as a team.”
After running out to a 21-11 first-half lead, CSCS then saw Manitou Springs’ offense wake up — mainly Mustangs senior Chase Megyeri.
“We didn’t go to Chase much at all in the first half. We are shooting right and left and we aren’t putting the ball into our best shooter’s hands,” Manitou Springs coach Ken Vecchio said of Megyeri, who leads the Mustangs in scoring with nearly 15 points per game. “I told them to get him the ball in (the second half). And it worked for awhile.”
Megyeri, who had only two points at half, lit it up in the third quarter for the Mustangs (8-7, 6-2). The senior captain knocked down 3-pointer after 3-pointer, from NBA range and beyond.
“We held him pretty good,” Engesser said, “but we knew it wouldn’t last forever.”
In the quarter, Megyeri hit three 3s and capped off a three-point play after he rolled in a fastbreak layup, cutting the deficit to 26-25 midway through the third quarter.
But back came CSCS, namely Wilbur.
Wilbur flipped in a layup and hit three 3s down the stretch to give the Lions the 34-28 lead after three.
The 6-foot-4 senior said it wasn’t too hard.
“Well, a lot of those points were easy. I was open on those 3s and I just hit them,” Wilbur said. “They had a weird defense, and my teammates just found me the ball.”
In the fourth, Tyler Washington hit an early 3 for the Mustangs to cut the deficit to 34-31, but the Lions kept the lead throughout.
With 2:48 remaining, the KO punch was delivered when Megyeri was called for an offensive foul, followed by a technical foul that sent him to the bench for the remainder of the game.
“It’s tough to come back when your best player gets called for back-to-back fouls that send him out of the game,” said Vecchio, whose team trailed 39-33 when his star fouled out. “I wanted to talk to the ref, but he never came over.”
The Mustangs had won their previous five.
In fact, their last loss came on Jan. 8 to CSCS, which beat Manitou Springs 52-38.