The only low point of Jaedn Harrison’s performance Saturday night was a botched highlight.
On a night where Javonte Johnson, the leading scorer on the 9-0 Cheyenne Mountain boys’ basketball team, was subjected to a variety of defensive looks — all of them physical — by Vista Ridge and Wade Jones, the Indians’ No. 2 scorer, watched in street clothes with an arm in a sling, Harrison was Cheyenne Mountain’s leading scorer in a 67-41 win over the Wolves.
His 14 points would’ve been 16 had his baseline dunk attempt in third quarter gone down. Instead, it popped off the back of the rim, and Harrison was eventually assessed a technical foul for hanging from the iron as he attempted a put-back.
“Honestly, I didn’t know,” Harrison said with a chuckle. “I thought if it hit the rim I could just put it back in. But it’s something new to know, and I guess I’ll learn from it.”
The explosive 6-foot-2 senior had done enough up to that point to make it a laughing matter.
“I think he played good defense. I think he was getting to the rim. He was knocking down shots,” Cheyenne Mountain coach Elgin Fitzgerald said. “I think overall he did a really good job, and he knows he’s definitely going to be one of the guys that has to step up, too.”
Visiting Harrison scored the first five points of the game, hitting a 3-pointer on the Indians’ first possession and following it up with a fast-break layup. The Cheyenne Mountain defense created easy offense throughout the first quarter. The Indians started the game on a 13-0 run and led 18-2 at the end of the first quarter when Xavey Bzdek grabbed an offensive rebound and put up a layup that just beat the buzzer.
“We came out hustling very hard,” Harrison said. “That’s what we want the rest of the year.”
The rest of the year might have to be played without Jones, a 6-foot-4 junior who averaged 16.9 points on 49% shooting from the field and 39% from 3-point range.
“He’s one of our best defensive players, one of our best shooters and rebounds … he just does everything for us,” Fitzgerald said.
The coach added that he expects more teams to try to send multiple defenders at Johnson without Jones on the floor. That’s fine with the New Mexico signee, who entered averaging 27.2 points per game, good for second in the state.
“They can do that every night,” Johnson said of the double teams and bracket coverage in the post. “If they want to hold me from getting the ball every game, then that’s going to happen every night.”
Johnson finished with 12 points, as did Blake Ruiz, who filled out the starting five with Jones sidelined. Cheyenne Mountain also got 10 points from Bzdek, who added a handful of offensive rebounds and a couple of blocked shots, and nine from Jack Osinski.
“We’re definitely balanced,” Fitzgerald said. “Obviously, their game plan was to take away Javonte, and so other guys needed to make shots and make plays.”
Vista Ridge (2-8) got a game-high 15 points from Jabez Hasberry, who hit four 3-pointers and did all his damage in the second half, but nobody made more plays than Harrison, even if he just missed on would’ve been the best of the bunch.
“It would’ve … ” Harrison said, “if I put it in.”