Players and fans who confront the challenge that is Lewis-Palmer’s surging basketball team want to annoy and distract Joel Scott, one of the Rangers’ lead players.
So, these players and fans taunt Joel about his brothers, Josh, Jordan and Jonathan. All were L-P stars.
“You live in your brothers’ shadows,” a guard from Falcon High School told Joel last week.
“Your brothers are better!” the crowd at Liberty High shouted in unison.
Big mistake, people.
“I try not to worry about what people say about my brothers,” Joel says, smiling before a Lewis-Palmer practice.
Instead, he thinks back to the nights his brothers scorched opponents while carrying L-P to victory. He uses the taunts to “fuel” his own scorching.
“OK,” he says to himself as the taunts begin, “‘I’ll show you I can play.’”
Make no mistake: He can play.
Joel, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, averages 13.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks for the Rangers, ranked No. 2 among local 4A teams by the GazettePreps.com and No. 4 in the state by CHSAA. Josh, Jordan and Jonathan all played for L-P teams that won 4A state titles. Joel hopes – well, expects – to follow that tradition, too.
Here’s a word of comfort for opposing players, fans and coaches who are weary of a never-ending onslaught at the hands of the Scott brothers:
Joel is the baby. Finally, the last one has arrived.
He’s a teen, but for more than a decade he’s battled with and against his brothers at an outdoor basketball hoop on a cul-de-sac near Baptist Road.
This is first-class competition. Josh, 6-foot-9, started four seasons for Tad Boyle at Colorado and plays professionally in Macedonia. Jordan, 6-foot-5, starts for Idaho, and Jonathan, 6-foot-3, starts for Otero Junior College in La Junta.
Did big brothers ever take it easy on little brother?
“Oh, no, never,” Joel says, laughing at the question.
In the old days, he yearned to keep up with his brothers, and usually failed. These failures formed the basis for his game, which is remarkably mature for a sophomore. He doesn’t try to do too much, but he never backs away from a challenge.
It’s rugged to hear fans and players and columnists constantly bring up his brothers, but that’s nothing compared to battling against big brother Josh in the post. Joel is fully prepared for rugged.
L-P coach Bill Benton has watched the entire Scott parade.
“He’s a mixture of all of them, I think,” Benton said. “He’s not as big as Josh but he had to play against Josh. He’s not as quick as Jordan or Jonny but he’s had to defend them. And he’s got every bit of all their toughness as well.”
The brothers, though crucial, failed to rank as the most important person in Joel’s basketball development.
That honor belongs to his mother, Theresa, who grew up in a basketball family in a basketball state, Indiana. She was a relentless 5-foot-10 inside player who thrived because of her devotion to out-thinking and outworking her opponents. Theresa, a 1985 Air Force Academy graduate, is the third leading rebounder and 12th leading scorer in Falcon history.
After games, Joel rides home in the back seat of the family’s Nissan Titan, listening to observations from Theresa and his father, A.J., a former Air Force football strong safety. Mom and dad offer praise, but the rides rise above mere encouragement.
When Scott scored 31 points, his career high, against Liberty, Theresa mentioned when he failed to follow the family’s standard procedure for grabbing a rebound.
“The one time you don’t box out, that guy got the rebound,” she said. “You don’t get to not do it once.”
Joel is young, but already wise enough to listen to mom. She knows what she’s talking about, and Joel knows that she knows.
“My mom has taught me everything I know about basketball throughout the years,” he says. “She’s honest. It’s tough love. She says, ‘You’re bad at this. You need to get better.’ And I say, ‘All right.’”
For Theresa, watching Joel dominate games is both uplifting and jolting. She remembers those days, and they don’t seem long ago, when Joel came to L-P games to watch Josh. He was a little, jubilant kid wearing an orange beanie.
“He never took that thing off,” she says of the hat.
Now, the beanie is gone, and her son is in the thick of the action. She watches closely from the stands, always preparing for those intense rides home in the Titan. She’s a gentle, demanding, loving critic. In other words, the best brand of mother.
“Every detail matters,” she says.
Chants directed at Joel about his assortment of big brothers distract and irritate her. She wants to stand up and do some shouting of her own, but then realizes Joel is mature enough and talented enough to silence all chanting.
Her baby, once that bouncy kid in the orange beanie, is all grown up.