LONGMONT — The Longmont boys basketball team's starting lineup features a pair of high-volume scorers and a rotation of versatile collegiate football recruits.
Generally speaking, that alone is a winning combination for a prep basketball team.
Reigning BoCoPreps.com player of the year Justinian Jessup (17.9 ppg), attacking guard Kolton Bachman (13.2 ppg), and athletic guards David Speidel (Longmont football's quarterback), Cooper Rothe (University of Wyoming football) and Eli Sullivan (University of Nebraska football) can get the job done on a nightly basis. The Longmont Trojans, however, have lost just one game in the past 731 days as much due to their depth in the seventh through 12th roster spots.
The Trojans are after a state title in 2016 and they know it will take more than a solid starting five to get it.
"We have 11 guys that could play on any team," junior guard Tol Mugunga said. "Coach makes it very clear for us what our role is so that when you get in the game you know exactly what you have to do. Everyone is accountable on defense and on offense everyone knows how they can contribute."
Mugunga views his role as the "get to the basket and get people going" slasher-type guy. At 6-foot-5, senior forward Joe Riss is the energy man who goes after every rebound. Senior guard Ryan Rulon is the spot-up shooter, averaging 6.3 points per game and shooting 43 percent from behind the arc. The list of roles goes on, and head coach Jeff Kloster expects everyone he puts on the floor to play defense.
"Everyone knows we have eight, nine guys who can start," Rulon said. "But all of us know our roles. For me, I love coming in a playing good solid defense. Then I find my spots and hit that open shot if I get it."
Against D'Evelyn in the Sweet 16 on Saturday, senior forward Kevin Mitchell (9.8 ppg), who was a starter last season, came off the bench to score 13 points. In total, the Longmont bench scored 21 of the team's 66 points, with Mugunga and Riss combining for the other eight points.
In the first round against Skyview the night before, 10 of the 12 Longmont players who entered the game scored, including six of the seven bench players. The bench accounted for exactly half of the Trojans' 62 points.
"The starters do a great job and it feels good that we're counted on to come in a keep the pressure on the other team," Riss said. "We just come in and try to give maximum effort and keep whatever we have going, going."
After the Trojans finished runners-up in Class 4A last year, Kloster is working with a wealth of top-to-bottom talent for the second straight season. As such, his starting lineup has been subject to change from night to night. One thing that doesn't change are his lofty expectations of each player who is suited up for a given game.
"On any given night, it changes," Kloster said. "I personally think that we have a group of guys who could start for nearly any other team and what I appreciate the most as a coach is the unselfishness. They put the team before themselves."