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Sand Creek is no stranger to basketball success.

D'Shawn Schwartz highlights a smaller group of Scorpions who've gone on to play at the next level, but coach Jeff Cooks doesn't necessarily want it that way. He'll take the stars and the inexperienced all the same. If they play like dogs, the wins and accolades will come — for everyone.

The process of building a culture is a long one, but Cooks knows his lessons are working, especially when his team is flying around the court, despite a double-digit lead — like it did in a 68-44 win over Mitchell on Wednesday.

"We can play at a high level for stretches, but we're searching for consistency," Cooks said. "We'll give a stretch of brilliance, then bottom out. Then we do it again. It's kind of been the story of our season."

The brilliance came in the second quarter. Sand Creek already had a lead but shut the Marauders down for a five-minute stretch in which the margin ballooned to over 20 at one point.

Then, the Scorpions allowed a flurry at the end of the quarter to push Mitchell back into the game. The defense was still there, and forced several contested shots, but wasn't able to force turnovers the same.

Once again in the fourth quarter, with a sizable lead, the Scorpions allowed three, 3-pointers in a row, but answered with uncontested layups on each subsequent possession. The two-minute span showed all the good and bad at once.

"We don't want to have those slowdowns, we want to keep pushing and keep working," senior Judah Montoya said. "We work hard every day, and our goal is to be dogs — never slow down."

The effort shows most on defense, but doesn't stop on offense.

The Scorpions, led by Montoya and junior Brandon Philpot's double-digit averages, are an attacking bunch.

Cooks will tell you that Montoya is the shooter, while Philpot is the driver. He'll also tell you that their efforts aren't singular. When the drives happen, or the shots begin to fall in bunches, the rest of Sand Creek sees lanes open.

"We're going to look to create shots and possibilities for both to succeed," Cooks said. "And when those two do that, we can get in a flow with everyone else. That allows us to put good numbers on the board."

There may not be a Division-I commit on this year's roster. Most years, and most teams won't have one but every 5-10 years if that.

But, setting a culture of hustle, even when the game is in hand, permeates through the locker room. The freshman, sophomores, juniors and even seniors carry it year-to-year — at least, if Cooks has his way.

Graduating classes become less burdensome when everyone is following the same values. Play like a dog, and you'll be another successful chapter in Sand Creek's search for a culture.