I’ve covered Lewis-Palmer boys’ basketball for more than a decade. During that time, the Rangers have maintained their standing as the state’s elite program. At any level.
The players donning the orange, black and white uniforms change from year to year, but the elevated level of team excellence never diminishes. Like the New England Patriots, Lewis-Palmer is not satisfied with just being good. Greatness is its top priority.
With that goal in mind, the Rangers have taken care of business with a workmanlike effort. Their approach has been fun to watch, and the results speak for themselves.
Beginning with the 2008-09 season, Lewis-Palmer teams have played in four Class 4A state finals (winning in 2012 and 2013, and losing in 2017 and 2018). Four other times (2009, 2010, 2011, 2015), they lost in the semifinals, and once (2016) they lost in the quarterfinals. The 2013-14 squad went 13-12 and lost in the second round.
This year’s Lewis-Palmer team might be the best of all of them. That includes the great Pat Garrity teams of the mid-1990s, and the high-flying Josh Scott teams from earlier this decade.
Here’s my case:
This Rangers (22-0) have played just one close game this season, a 48-42 win at Liberty on Dec. 11. Lewis-Palmer’s next-lowest point outputs are 55 vs. Vista Ridge and 59 vs. Vista PEAK Prep.
The Rangers are defeating teams by an average score of 71-44. They have beat their last 10 opponents by at least 30 points.
On Jan. 3, Lewis-Palmer defeated Chaparral, the state’s top 5A team, by 12. A month earlier, the Rangers defeated Holy Family, ranked No. 3 in 4A, by 18. On Jan. 23, Lewis-Palmer handled Cheyenne Mountain, the No. 4 team in 4A, by 35.
At this point, it appears as though the Rangers and Longmont are headed for a state-championship rematch. Longmont is 22-0 and ranked No. 2. The Trojans’ strength of schedule, according to MaxPreps, is 3.2. The Rangers’ is 7.3. Longmont’s average score of games is 70-40.
I’d like the Rangers to win it all because they seemingly have no weaknesses. They move the ball well on offense and play shut-down defense. Their transition game is fantastic, as well.
Lewis-Palmer doesn’t have a single player who automatically strikes fear into an opponent, but the Rangers as a collective group are a well-oiled machine. Their usual five starters — Josh Scott, Matthew Ragsdale, Ethan Forrester, Noah Baca and Tre McCullough — average 67 points per game. Scott is the team leader with 18.5, followed by Ragsdale’s 16.9.
If there is a concern, from a fan’s perspective, it’s that the Rangers have not played a down-to-the-wire game all season. Typically, games get tougher the deeper you go in the playoffs. Last season, Lewis-Palmer won its quarterfinal and semifinal playoff games over Widefield and Pueblo West, respectively, by a combined five points.
I hope to see you around the gym in the coming weeks. The postseason is always a lot of fun.
Danny Summers has been covering sports at all levels in the Pikes Peak region since 2001. Send your story ideas and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.