February 7, 2014 Updated: February 8, 2014 at 11:57 am
For Sand Creek, four solid quarters were just enough to hold off a mammoth comeback attempt from Air Academy in the final eight minutes.
Dylan Clark scored a team-high 23 points, Jason Pasley and Langston Bell added 12 each, and the Scorpions claimed a 63-57 road victory to claim sole possession of first place in the Pikes Peak Athletic Conference.
"We're finally figuring out what we can be when we put it all together," Scorpions coach Joe Rausch said. "But we've got to get tougher. A team like Air Academy is so tough, they nearly got back in it by being tougher than us. You can't let up for a second."
Garrett Bingham's 3-pointer in the first minute of the fourth quarter gave the Scorpions (14-3 overall, 8-1 PPAC) a 46-28 advantage, their largest of the night.
David Louthan scored 13 of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter, highlighted by four straight baskets - including three 3-pointers - that brought the Kadets (13-4, 6-2) to within 52-47 with 3:01 left.
That was as close as Air Academy got - despite a 29-point fourth quarter - as Sand Creek answered with baskets in transition from Pasley and Bryce Glaser that opened up a 56-47 advantage with 2:09 left.
"That's usually our game plan, to run and put up points," Pasley said. "We're quicker than most teams, and that's how we practice. We have things to work on, but this is big win for us."
Sand Creek took command of the game in the middle quarters, outscoring the Kadets by a 25-14 margin. Many of the Scorpions' baskets were from close range, the product of beating the Kadets down the court in transition off breaking their full-court press.
Air Academy made just five of 29 shots in those 16 minutes as it fell for just the second time at home this season.
"They ran on us, and we didn't get back and play defense in the second and third quarters," Kadets guard Paul Fertig said. "They outplayed us tonight."
Early on, Air Academy had the edge, bolting out to a 9-0 lead not quite three minutes into the game.
By the end of the first quarter, the Scorpions had found their groove, leading 16-14 behind a pair of Clark 3-pointers and contributions from four other players.
"This is first time all year where I felt like I've got nine guys, that if I can find the right spot and situation, there's not a whole lot of letup when they come in the game," Rausch said. "Our bench stepped up again."