It’s official: Sand Creek has become a basketball power.
Already sporting a girls’ team that’s one of the best in the city, the boys flexed their muscles on Tuesday night against an undefeated Cheyenne Mountain team in a 59-49 victory.
The Scorpions (10-0, 3-0 4A Pikes Peak Athletic Conference) did enough to gain a lead in the fourth quarter and closed the show with solid free-throw shooting.
“It feels nice to be able to make free throws because it gives our team an option down the stretch when we have the lead,” said Sand Creek point guard Dylan Clark, who scored 17 points and went 10-for-12 from the line. “During the first half we rushed things on offense, but in the third quarter we had patience and executed better.”
The third quarter was the key to the game, as the Scorpions – who trailed 23-22 at the break – got their offense going, scoring more points in the quarter than they did in the entire first half.
As hot as Sand Creek was in the eight minutes, the Indians were that cold. The Scorpions outscored Cheyenne Mountain 23-13 in the quarter, taking a nine-point lead into the fourth.
“I’d like to take credit for giving them a great halftime pep talk, but that’s not what it was,” Sand Creek coach Joe Rausch said. “We missed some easy shots in the first half against a team that played good defense. We got hot and made some shots and that was the difference in the game.”
The lead would increase to double digits in the fourth quarter and Cheyenne Mountain had to play catch-up. The Indians began to foul to stop the clock, but it didn't help, as Clark and the rest of Sand Creek made the majority of their free throws.
“In the third quarter our offense was terrible; we didn’t run good sets and they are one of the better defensive teams in our league,” Cheyenne Mountain coach J’on St. Clair said. “We need to play more as a team, and we have to get more guys better shots.”
The game looked like it might be a laugher midway through the first quarter. Sand Creek took a 14-2 lead out of the gate, but then went cold, allowing Cheyenne Mountain (10-1, 2-1) to go on a 21-4 run of its own to take a 23-18 lead at one point in the second quarter.
However, the Indians couldn’t capitalize and took their first loss of the year. The road doesn’t get any easier for Cheyenne Mountain, as it travels to defending 4A state champion Lewis-Palmer on Friday night.
“We had 17 turnovers tonight and most of them were unforced, so we’ve got to start taking better care of the ball,” said Indians guard Ghassan Nehme, who led all scorers with 21 points. “We also didn’t knock down shots we usually knock down, so we need to take care of that too.”
Sand Creek had a balanced effort in the scoring column, with Josh Smith scoring 14 points and adding six rebounds and three blocks, and Bryan Jenkins scoring 12 points.
Nehme was the only Indian in double figures. Darrin Haynes was the second-highest scorer with nine.