Lavelle Scottie ran out of the tunnel first. He won the opening tip, took the first shot, scored the first points, grabbed the first offensive rebound and added the first second-chance points.
The first dunk belonged to Scottie as well.
So, what did Air Force learn in a lopsided 97-74 exhibition victory over Colorado Christian?
You have to start, first of all, with Scottie, the sophomore who played center last year but on Tuesday debuted his new role as a do-it-all forward for the Falcons.
“It’s just been in storage for so long, I feel like it’s about time it’s ready to come out,” Scottie said of his outside game, which helped him to a team-high 14 points and five rebounds in 17 minutes.
“If you put trust in me, I’m going to take it and run with it.”
He also added two assists, a steal and hit 2-of-5 3-point attempts.
Air Force is genuinely excited about its depth, and it put it on full display in this dress rehearsal at Clune Arena. It dressed 20 players on Tuesday and was able to play them all after building leads of 13-0 and then 43-24 at halftime. The lead reached 29 at one point.
Ryan Manning scored 10 points. Trevor Lyons and Pervis Louder each had nine and Sid Tomes and Jonathan DeWane contributed eight apiece. Fifteen players scored for Air Force and all 20 players recorded either a point or rebound.
Air Force shot 52.1 percent and limited the Division II Cougars to 39.7 percent – including 27.6 in the first half.
Colorado Springs Christian School graduate Justin Engesser scored all of his 13 points in the second half, igniting a crowd of a couple of dozen who came out to support the local product.
Falcons coach Dave Pilipovich didn’t like that Colorado Christian scored 50 second-half points.
“I thought we stepped back a little bit today,” he said. “We need to be aggressive defensively. We’ve got to be a better defensive team this year if we’re going to do the things we want to do. That’s where it starts is with defensive effort.”
Both offensively and defensively, it’s quickly becoming clear that Scottie could emerge from a crowded roster as the key as the program seeks its first winning season since 2012-13.
“He’s an aggressive player,” Louder said of Scottie. “Probably the most aggressive on the team. He just needs to bring that every game. We’ve got to have a chip on our shoulder and he kind of brings that toughness. We need that.”
Louder, a junior, also showed prolonged glimpses of the aggressiveness in taking the ball at the hoop that he showed in flashes over his first two seasons. The guard scored nine points in 11 minutes, hitting 4-of-5 shots and grabbing four rebounds.
“Hopefully I put everything together,” Louder said. “I’ve been working hard. Honestly, I just want to win. That’s why I work so hard.”
Texas State, which went 22-14 last year and advanced to the Sun Belt tournament championship game before winning a pair of games in the Collegeinsider.com Tournament, travels to Clune Arena for the season opener at 2 p.m. Sunday.
After 27 practices and one closed scrimmage, the Falcons were eager to take their home floor Tuesday.
They’re obviously more excited to get to one that counts.
“We have a high sense of urgency,” Scottie said. “This is setting the tone for our entire season. This exhibition game is very valuable because this tells us how we’re going to look in our next game and how we’re going to look during the season. Taking this seriously is going to carry on over into the next game, and that’s what we need. We can’t have any slippage. We’re setting the bar high this year.”