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Boys' basketball: 'Complacent' Sand Creek unravels after fast start

March 14, 2014 Updated: March 14, 2014 at 11:19 pm
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Sand Creek's Langston Bell reacts as he walks off the court after losing the Colorado State Basketball Championship semifinals 59-51 to Pueblo East Friday, March 14, 2014 at the University of Colorado. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

BOULDER - The points came quickly and with relative ease, or so it looked for Sand Creek early on in its 4A boys' semifinal game against Pueblo East.

In hindsight, that fast start might have doomed the Scorpions, who lost most of their offensive touch after the first quarter and fell to the Eagles 59-51 at the Coors Events Center.

"I think we got too complacent," said Scorpions four-year starting point guard Dylan Clark, who led all scorers with 24 points. "We got complacent on defense and got complacent with the lead. After that, they made a run and we kind of shut down.

Sand Creek (21-6) hit six of eight shots in the first quarter, then maintained that momentum into the second. Micheal DeCarmo highlighted a quick 8-0 run with a layup and a 3-pointer that gave the Scorpions a 23-17 lead with 4:25 left before halftime.

Everything changed in 60 seconds, the length of the ensuing Pueblo East timeout.

The Eagles responded with an 11-0 run that gave them a 28-23 lead at halftime and changed the entire complexion of the game.

"We weren't guarding like we were capable of guarding," Eagles coach Dave Ryder said. "So we started guarding, then we started hitting some shots. That's big for us on the defensive end."

Dylan Gavin scored 13 of his team-high 21 points in the second half, highlighted by his fadeaway baseline jumper in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter that stretched the East lead to 48-33, its largest of the night.

That shot, in particular, impressed Sand Creek coach Joe Rausch the most.

"That kid hits some tough shots," Rausch said. "We play great defense, and then he hits a tough, turnaround 15-foot fadeaway, that's kind of heartbreaking."

So, too, was Rausch watching a senior class, highlighted by Clark, that took Sand Creek to the 4A semifinals for the first time in school history.

Clark's three-point play trimmed the East lead to 55-49 with 1:15 left, but East hit four free throws in the last minute to keep the Scorpions from getting any closer.

"Dylan (Clark) has the biggest heart in the world, and I think he's the best player in the state," Rausch said. "We expect him to do everything on a day-in, day-out basis. From rebounds, assists and scoring, we expected him to do everything. He's the epitome of what a basketball player should be."

TJ Gradisar added 18 points for Pueblo East, which on Saturday will make its first appearance in a championship game since falling to Sierra in 2010.

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