Dylan Clark didn't have long to make up his mind, but with the game potentially on the line, instinct took over.
The Sand Creek senior made the right call, hitting a critical 3-pointer that stopped a Pine Creek run and boosted the Scorpions to a 68-56 road victory Monday in the boys' basketball season opener for both teams.
"The last three years at Sand Creek, I've pretty much been just a point guard," Clark said. "This year, I have to take more of a role in scoring and find when it's the right time to take over. I know I had a lot of space and had a shot I was comfortable with, so I took it."
Clark, an Air Force commit, hit four 3-pointers en route to a 30-point performance, and Langston Bell added 13 points and seven rebounds as the Scorpions (1-0) beat the Eagles (0-1) for the 10th consecutive time, dating back to the 2007-08 season.
Sand Creek led 36-20 at halftime but had the advantage shaved to 10 heading into the fourth quarter. Three consecutive baskets brought Pine Creek to within 51-44 after Dionne Taylor's jumper from the right side with 4:10 left in the game.
After an Eagles stop, David Bray had an open look on a 3-pointer from the left corner, but the shot was off the mark.
Unfortunately for Pine Creek, Clark's long-range shot from the left wing didn't miss, extending the Sand Creek lead back to 10 at 54-44 with 3:27 left. The Eagles never got closer than eight points the rest of the night.
"That was a huge shot, and we expect Dylan to make that shot," Scorpions coach Joe Rausch said. "I don't know what I'm going to do when that kid graduates. For four years, he makes it look like I know what I'm doing. He's a super player. I think he's the best point guard in the state."
Sand Creek led 16-7 after one quarter, highlighted by a 9-0 run, then used another 9-0 run late in the second quarter that turned a five-point lead into a 31-17 advantage.
Grant Morin scored nine of his team-high 20 points in the third quarter as the Eagles, who made just 8-of-23 shots in the first half, equaled that field-goal effort in the third quarter alone.
"We just started out really slow, and we went back to the basics in the second half," Morin said. "We started running our team offense and team defense, and it turned into easy baskets and more buckets. We needed a few more momentum swings to go our way. The ones they got back on us were just killers."
Sand Creek, which reached the 4A state quarterfinals last year, graduated three starters off that team, including Josh Smith, the school's all-time leading scorer who signed with Colorado State-Pueblo.
With an overhauled starting five - only Clark and fellow guard Micheal DeCarmo started last season - the Scorpions struggled to keep their foot on the pedal and allowed Pine Creek to creep back into the game.
"The other guys aren't used to this," Rausch said. "They don't understand that at the varsity level, you just can't play with them once you get a little bit of a lead. You have to try to put the hammer down. We got comfortable, and we didn't handle it well for a while."