MONUMENT • Jordan Scott was told he would be relied upon heavily to slow down Josh Smith. Justin Smith was told he needed to get to the basket more.
Justin Smith scored a game-high 20 points, while Jordan Scott held Josh Smith to five points, and Lewis-Palmer wrapped up the inaugural Pikes Peak Athletic Conference title with a 64-48 victory over Sand Creek on Tuesday at Lewis-Palmer High School.
“We really challenged Jordan because (Josh) is one of the best players in the state,” Lewis-Palmer coach Russ McKinstry said. “We focused on what we wanted to do from the very beginning and that was own the paint.”
Because of conference tiebreakers, even if the Rangers (19-3, 12-1 PPAC) were to lose Friday and Sand Creek (20-2, 11-2) were to win, L-P would own the crown, McKinstry said.
While Scott was containing Josh Smith, Justin Smith went to work inside. The 6-foot-6 senior scored nine of his 20 at the free-throw line, converting a three-point play near the end of the third quarter to put the Rangers up 44-36.
“That’s one of the things I need to work on, going inside more,” Justin Smith said. “Jordan, myself, we need to start attacking the basket more.”
Smith was a big part of the Rangers’ early rally. Sand Creek went ahead 13-6 before L-P cut it to 13-11 heading into the second quarter. Justin Smith was on the finishing end of an alley-oop from Tyler Owens to open the second quarter, and Chase Stone hit one of his four 3s to put the Rangers in the lead for the rest of the game.
“We knew what was on the line,” Justin Smith said.
The first time the two teams met, Sand Creek was on the winning end, a 67-64 victory behind 20 points from Josh Smith. This time the Scorpions senior, who entered the game averaging 16.5 points, was held to single digits for the second time this season.
“Josh has lit me up more times than I can count,” Scott said. “I stuck to him and tonight his shots weren’t falling.”
The Scorpions jumped out to a 6-0 lead and were up 13-6 when point guard Dylan Clark went to the bench because of a stomach virus. By the time Clark was back on the court late in the third quarter, the Scorpions trailed by 11.
“It devastates me because I knew this game meant a lot to me and my teammates,” said Clark, who still scored 10 in limited action. “I couldn’t perform, so it hurts that I couldn’t help my team.”
With Clark on the bench, Josh Smith and Bryan Jenkins had to find their own shots. Jenkins finished with a team-high 17.
“(Clark’s) the guy that runs the show offensively for us,” Scorpions coach Joe Rausch said. “When he’s not out there for us that makes things a lot more difficult.”
It's never easy to lose, but the timing of a loss can be critical.
“I'd rather take a loss now than a couple games down the road,” Josh Smith said.