LOUISVILLE -- It wasn't as if Monarch boys basketball coach Ken Niven was looking at just one problem as he prepared his Coyotes for the 2012-13 season. Niven could drop a dart upon a random spot on last year's statistical sheet, and the point would be destined to land in an area in which Monarch seemingly needed help this season.
Gone is the top scorer from last year's squad, Nathan Brooks, along with a number of other members of the class of 2012 that provided rebounding and, perhaps more crucially, leadership to a Coyotes team that reached the second round of the Class 5A state tournament.
Moreover, as the season drew closer Niven learned that Monarch would be without two of the team's key returnees due to injury, and that their return to the court probably would not occur until after the holidays.
Taken together, it created enough holes to give a coach ulcers and make a team easy pickings for just about any opponent. Fortunately for the Coyotes, junior guard Ben Beauchamp is picking up the slack all across the court.
Beauchamp has turned heads on the young season with his superb all-around play, allowing the Coyotes to jump out of the gate with wins in two of their first three games despite their revamped lineup.
"It says something about him that he is willing to do all the little things and is willing to sacrifice himself for the team," Niven said. "He just does everything well. He rebounds. He's our best defender. He takes care of the ball and is just a great passer.
"And his leadership, he's just taken the young guys under his wing. Otherwise we'd really be in trouble. He's turning into a great leader."
Beauchamp exploded out of the gate, knocking down five 3-pointers while scoring a career-best 25 points in a season-opening win against Standley Lake. Beauchamp followed that effort with a 21-point outburst as the Coyotes took defending Class 5A state champion Chaparral to the wire in a 53-52 defeat before rebounding with a decisive win Tuesday at Douglas County.
Beauchamp, the nephew of former Fairview girls basketball coach (and new Broomfield athletic director) Rod Beauchamp, hasn't exactly emerged out of nowhere, as his strong start was preceded by an impressive finish to his sophomore season that included a 24-point effort in a win against Lakewood in the first round of last year's state tournament. Yet his stellar early all-around play has provided a much-needed boost to Monarch's depleted, youthful roster.
"I just feel real confident -- my shot has been feeling good, and my teammates have been doing a good job of getting me the ball," Beauchamp said. "My mindset is to just always let the game come to me. When you let the game come to you, that's when you play your best. We lost a bunch of guys from last year, but we've gained a bunch of guys this year who are real talented and that I really trust."
With juniors Kyle Billingsley and C.T. Wristen recovering from shoulder injuries that will keep them sidelined until at least after Jan. 1, Beauchamp's sharp-shooting eye will be leaned on heavily until the Coyotes enter Front Range League play.
Tuesday's win at Douglas County perhaps showcased how well Monarch already is rounding into form. While Beauchamp finally came down to earth with an 11-point night, Monarch outscored the Huskies 23-4 in the second quarter to cruise to the win with senior Alex Krason breaking loose for 26 points.
"I've really been working on my shot, and I've been shooting the ball well, so I'm happy with that," Beauchamp said. "Last year I didn't shoot the ball as well as I wanted to, or needed to. I really came into this year trying to work on my shot, and it's been working.
"These pre-league games are really important to us. They're going to make a big difference for us come tournament time. We think we have a good shot at going far this year."
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