It didn’t have the hype of Ali vs. Frazier, but Thursday’s matchup between Lewis-Palmer and Chaparral certainly was billed as a heavyweight tilt worthy of headlines.
The hometown Rangers, ranked No. 1 in the state in the Class 4A RPI standings, led the Wolverines, No. 1 in the 5A RPI standings, by as many as 14 points in the first half.
But Chaparral roared back in the third quarter to tie the score at 45, only to see Lewis-Palmer respond with a 20-5 run in the fourth to finish with a convincing 71-59 victory in front of a packed house.
“This game was fun. We enjoyed it,” said Lewis-Palmer senior Joel Scott, who led all scorers with 20 points. “We play club ball and travel ball with a lot of guys over there. We knew it was going to be a good game. It was exciting to go out and play the way we wanted to.”
The Rangers improved to 8-0 and secured their position as the No. 1 ranked contender in the push for the state championship trophy.
“This is good for us to get a good win over a team like (Chaparral), but we need to just keep playing hard on the defensive end and controlling the way we play,” Scott added.
Rangers’ senior guard Noah Baca was arguably the star of the game on defense. His assignment was to put the clamps on Chaparral junior guard Kobe Sanders, who entered the game averaging 23 points per game. Baca held Sanders scoreless in the first half and nine for the game.
“Noah Baca played his tail off,” said Lewis-Palmer coach Bill Benton. “Kobe is an amazing player, and for Noah to be able to come in and hold him to zero points in the first half, and do it without fouling, is impressive.”
Baca (11 points) remained humble after the game.
“This gives us the confidence to know we can play with anyone, we can beat anyone,” he said. “Every game is the most important game of the season and that’s how we approached this one.”
Rangers’ senior shooting guard Matthew Ragsdale tallied 14 points and was a constant focus of the Chaparral defense. He said he was not surprised that Chaparral (9-2) came out strong to begin the second half.
“We knew they were going to come out swinging, but once they came back we got it together,” he said.
“This gives us confidence going forward because it shows us what we can do against good teams if we play the right way.”
Chaparral senior forward Bryce Matthews (12 points) said he would like a rematch with the Rangers.
“Going in, we knew they were a good team and I think it got in our heads a little bit,” he said. “I would love to play them again. Hopefully the outcome would be different.”