Discovery Canyon senior Zach Anderson
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Discovery Canyon senior Zack Anderson, file, The Gazette.

Photo courtesy of Paul Magnuson

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Daryn Whisman, Zack Anderson, Ethan Hall and Jack Lattanzi combined for 52 points to lead the Discovery Canyon High School boys’ basketball team to a 62-52 victory over Woodland Park Friday in the Thunder’s season opener.

“There’s a lot we did well, but there’s a lot we could do better,” said Whisman, a junior guard who scored a team-high 20 points. “We had some bad turnovers, on my part especially, and we can improve on every part of this game even though we came out with a W.”

The Thunder trailed just once, 3-2, less than 40 seconds into the game with Woodland Park high-flying senior Skye Ciccarelli drained a long-range 3-pointer. The defending Class 3A state high jump champion finished with a game-high 22 points.

The Thunder answered with nine consecutive points and led 14-9 after the first eight-minute quarter of play. It upped its advantage to 31-24 by halftime and led by as many as 14 points in the third quarter.

The Thunder stayed in a 3-2 zone defense most of the game, trying to force the height-disadvantaged Panthers into shooting over them. Anderson, a 6-foot-6 senior forward who can also shoot effectively from beyond the 3-point arc, teamed with 6-8 junior center Brandon Clawson to create a wall inside the paint. Anderson had a game-high 10 rebounds, while Clawson pulled down five boards and blocked four shots.

Anderson, the school’s two-year starting quarterback on the football team, made his presence known in a big way on two occasions in the fourth quarter. He slammed home an alley-oop pass with authority at the 7:10 mark to put Discovery Canyon on top 47-33. With 3:25 to play, he received a technical foul after shoving Woodland Park 6-foot junior guard Joey Babin to the floor after the two had a verbal altercation. Babin also received a technical foul.

Anderson, the only senior on Discovery Canyon, was fouled hard by Chris Riley while going up for a shot under the basket prior to the altercation with Babin.

“They were bringing the energy so we had to bring it right back,” Anderson said of the heated exchange. “That’s all I was doing.”

Babin said he just standing up for his teammate.

“You gotta protect your brothers and I just stepped in,” said Babin, who finished with four points before fouling out with about a minute remaining. “I just pushed him and he pushed me back.”

The Thunder upped its lead to 16 points (51-35) in the fourth, but Woodland Park chipped away, pulling within eight points (53-45) with 3:40 remaining on Markus Eiselein 3-pointer. He finished with nine points after scoring a career-high 25 in the season opener at Pueblo County on Nov. 27.

Discovery Canyon coach Paul Campbell said his team was keying on Eiselein and Ciccarelli.

“Between the two of them they had 41 points against Pueblo County and shot over 50 percent from 3-point range,” Campbell said. “We knew they were a real threat.”

Campbell is in his third season with the Thunder. He guided the program to the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs in 2016 and the second round last season.

The Thunder plays eight games this month, including a Dec. 19 tilt at defending 4A state champion Longmont. Discovery Canyon opens Pikes Peak Athletic Conference action Jan. 4 at Sand Creek.

“I might be partial, but I think the PPAC is the best conference in the state,” Campbell said. “This league is very deep.

“The last two years has been about trying to make us relevant, and I don’t think teams can check a box against us and say we’re a win anymore.”

Pikes Peak Newspapers Sports Reporter

Pikes Peak Newspapers Sports Reporter

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