Published: February 8, 2014
If Jordan Rhodes and Fountain-Fort Carson had been flying under the radar before, they're all over it now.
Rhodes scored a career-high 32 points and Fountain-Fort Carson dispatched of Liberty 68-52 on Saturday to become the only team in the 5A Colorado Springs Metro League to beat every team in the conference this season.
Rhodes, a 6-foot-7 senior, hit a pair of 3-pointers, grabbed nine rebounds and scored at will inside to help avenge two season losses to the Lancers.
"We talked about it," said Rhodes, who scored 21 points in the first half. "We've been prepared for this game for weeks."
Less than three weeks ago, the Trojans (9-10 overall, 5-1 league) had all of four wins to their name. On the flip side of their record were nine losses, including a 64-15 blowout by Regis Jesuit and a 25-point loss to Mountain Vista.
Then came league. New hope. But the Trojans blew a 19-point lead in the second half to the same Lancers (10-8, 3-3) who had also beaten Fountain-Fort Carson in a conference tournament in mid-December. Still, the Trojans didn't despair.
"We lost a lot of seniors last year, so it took us some time to gel as a team," Trojans coach Greg Williams said. "With Michaud Williams and Juan Sabino, they had to find their way as leaders. ... We're getting some good leadership from two juniors and we're getting some really, really great play by Jordan Rhodes, a senior, who is one of, if not the best, player in the city."
Since that game, the two-time defending league champs have been on a tear. They edged Pine Creek by two to snap a five-game winning streak, blew out Rampart by 16, edged Doherty by three and topped Palmer by 14.
Then came Saturday, a second shot at redemption and a third shot at Liberty.
The Trojans hit just three of 10 shots in the third quarter, while Liberty put up 11 points, including the last seven to gain momentum and cut the Trojans' lead to 48-39.
As the fourth quarter opened, Rhodes turned to playmaker. The Trojans worked the ball around quickly before he found a cutting Ty Worrell under the basket for an easy two. Then Rhodes scored four of the Trojans' next six points and Fountain-Fort Carson led 56-40.
"He's a multifaceted kid," Williams said.
The Lancers didn't help themselves much. They shot 8 of 21 (38.1 percent) in the second half and only made 8 of 14 from the free-throw line.
"Even in the third quarter we shot 20 percent from the floor," Lancers coach Ivan Chambers said. "Even though we scored more points than they did, we still couldn't shoot well. You're going to have nights you don't shoot well, and we just didn't shoot well."
Matt Gosselin led the Lancers with 14 points.