The Widefield defense kept coming, coming and coming, and Colorado Springs Christian School did the worst thing it could, as clearly evident in a 67-34 rout in Brower Gym on Thursday.
“We panicked, we panicked and we panicked,” said Lions coach Mark Engesser. “We needed to play a slowdown game, but instead we tried to play at their pace and panicked when we could not. That played right into their hands.”
Class 4A Widefield’s constant defensive pressure thoroughly disrupted the Lions’ offense, holding Pikes Peak 3A No. 1 CSCS (4-2) to only six points in the second quarter.
Wyoming signee Alan Herndon, a 6-foot-9 post, altered several CSCS shots, and good secondary team defense with players rotating to help teammates who gambled trying for steals and tipped balls led to Lions turnovers and Widefield fast-break baskets for a 32-16 halftime lead.
“We are not going to see a player like that again this season,” Engesser said of Herndon. “We had a hard time getting the ball inside with their guards’ pressure. But when we did, he was there.”
“Defense is what this team is built on,” said Herndon, who scored 12 points as did Anthony Saunders. Sophomore Brandon Branch led all scorers with 15.
CSCS led by one midway through the first quarter before Widefield (5-3) started to reap its rewards on defense. Three turnovers jump-started a 7-1 run over the final 3:47, capped by a Jordan Phillips 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded for a 15-10 advantage. The Lions would get no closer despite 10 points each from freshman Samuel Howard and senior Austin Johnson.
That change in the game’s momentum developed because Gladiators coach Brent Garretson was dissatisfied with the starters’ defensive efforts, as CSCS went ahead 9-8 on a bucket from Johnson.
“We still did not come out as aggressive as I wanted, so I replaced all five (starters),” Garretson said. “Those five (reserves) went out and played the way I wanted. The starters saw that and were ready to come in and play defense. That almost always works.”
It certainly did on Thursday night in both teams’ final games before the holiday break.
”When our guys saw them bring in a whole new five they thought things were going to get easier,” Engesser said. “The opposite happened. They were faster and quicker to the ball.”
Widefield put the nonconference game away during the third, sparked by three 3-pointers (Jymon Garretson, Branch and Herndon) in 105 seconds for a 45-20 lead.