With a starting lineup that featured four seniors, Lewis-Palmer used its talent, depth and experience to again rule the roost in 4A boys’ basketball.
But when the Rangers needed a big basket or defensive stand, Jordan Scott found a way to make a game-changing play.
The 6-foot-6 senior came up big in clutch situations. His 15-point, 10-rebound performance helped Lewis-Palmer rally past Wasson in the 4A state semifinals in Boulder. The next night, his alley-oop slam with 1:11 left in the state final put the exclamation point on a team-high, 17-point effort March 16 as the Rangers beat Valor Christian to defend their state title.
“All of the great players we had made us good,” Scott said. “Justin (Smith) is really, really good. Chase (Stone) is a deadeye shooter. Tyler (Owens) is another great shooter. Then there’s Dylan (Tucker). It was an all-around effort, not one person by any means.”
Last season, Jordan’s older brother, Josh, took the lead as Lewis-Palmer finally broke through after three consecutive setbacks in the state semifinals, claiming their first state crown since 1994. But without the presence of the 6-10 tower, Jordan used his sleeker size and quickness to make up the difference.
He averaged 18.0 points and 9.8 rebounds as a senior, a marked improvement from the 12.6 and 5.5 Scott put up during his junior season.
“I had to be more aggressive,” Scott said. "We didn’t have that 6-10 guy this year. That was the big thing, to be more aggressive.”
Looking back, those driveway one-on-one battles with big brother paid off this year more than ever. He learned about toughness, physically and mentally, and the importance of developing his jump shot when bigger bodies clogged the low post.
His stats speak for themselves. He drove to the basket with amazing accuracy, hitting 63 percent of his shots from close range. Meanwhile, his ability to make a 3-point shot stretched defenses thin.
“It was tough going against my brother,” Scott said. “Those games definitely got my competitive drive going, and it definitely got me a lot better as well.”
A tough preseason schedule and strong league also tested Scott’s team. The Rangers lost a 27-game winning streak at the hands of D’Evelyn, an eventual 4A semifinalist, just before Christmas. Lewis-Palmer then fell at Chaparral, a seemingly unthinkable losing streak heading into the holiday break.
Then, the Rangers rebounded from a league loss at Sand Creek by returning the favor a few weeks later. By the end of February, Lewis-Palmer stood atop the Pikes Peak Athletic Conference standings. And the Rangers peaked at the right time, showing that signature toughness and composure to win five playoff games to claim consecutive state titles.
“Those games helped us in the long run,” Scott said. “Not many people can say they’re defending champions. That’s pretty awesome.”