Air Academy just needed that first bucket and a chance to set up its press. From there, the more experienced team cruised.
The Kadets forced turnovers on eight consecutive possessions after facing an early six-point hole and ran away from Widefield 70-45 on Thursday at Air Academy's gym.
The 6-0 deficit went away with three quick layups and a prolonged 29-4 run that spanned parts of the second and third quarters made this a runaway.
"I never know," said Kadets coach Barry Clark, who said he wasn't overly optimistic after seeing Widefield struggle early against his press. "Coach (Brent) Garretson is kind of in a world of his own. He's an amazing coach. I knew those guys were going to be well-coached and at least have the fundamentals down. It was going to just be if we were able to create a little anxiety for them."
The anxiety was certainly there, as Widefield was forced into multiple 10-second calls and threw repeatedly into the hands of Air Academy defenders.
It was as if the Kadets knew what was coming. And that's because they did.
"Football's Hudl has been kind of a blessing for basketball," Clark said of the online video-sharing program used to scout opponents. "Now there's videos that we can share and we don't have to cut into practice time by just sitting in my office watching film."
More than the product of scouting, however, this matchup was the perfect illustration of the importance of experience. Air Academy has a large senior class that has played together on varsity for three years. Widefield had that last year, and went 18-7, but now is rebuilding primarily with sophomores and freshmen.
The road gets no easier for the Gladiators (1-3), who face a strong Sand Creek team as well as Pueblo East, Mountain Vista, Grand Junction Central and Smoky Hill all before Christmas.
"These kids will get it," said Garretson, whose son, Jymon, led all scorers with 19 points. "We're not going to stay like this."
Air Academy (5-1) was led by David Louthan's 17 points, and with 11 from John Sims, this was the style this team needs to play to be successful. The Kadets had points from 12 players and didn't relent on the press until the game was well in hand.
"We want to win state," Louthan said. "Hopefully that's realistic. I think we have the potential. We'll see."
Garretson also sees big things in his team's future. But he knows it is a ways away.
"It's there," he said. "We're going to be real good down the road. Really good."