MONUMENT — The Lewis-Palmer Rangers proved why they were the No. 1 seed in the Class 4A state tournament on Saturday with a 76-41 win over the No. 9 seed Centaurus Warriors in the Great 8 round.
Specifically, it was their size and length that made things difficult for Centaurus on both ends of the court all night long.
"They know how to use their size," Centaurus coach Travis Maron said. "There are some teams that don't know how to do that, but they do. We just didn't have an answer for it. We fought and battled hard, but their size was a huge advantage for them."
Eight of the 12 varsity players on the LPHS roster came in standing 6-foot-3 or taller. Joel Scott, the leading scorer for the team, came in at 6-7. Tre McCullough joined him in the paint at 6-8 and guards Matthew Ragsdale and Ethan Forrester both came in at 6-4, giving the Rangers four players in their starting lineup with quality size.
Lewis-Palmer played to their strengths with their size to build a 30-12 lead in the first half. The area they hurt Centaurus the most was on defense, getting into lanes and tipping passes to create turnovers. Many of those turnovers resulted in breakaway layups on the other end.
"We were a little shell-shocked and had some turnovers that were uncharacteristic of us," Maron said. "That got them out in the transition. That was really it from the start for us, unfortunately."
When the Rangers were forced to go against the half-court defense from Centaurus, they threw the ball inside and got to the paint often. Offensive rebounds added to the domination in the paint that saw the game get out of reach early.
A quick run 11-0 run to start the second half was the final nail in the coffin on the season for Centaurus. The 3-point shots began to fall as Lewis-Palmer opened the lead further in the second half and forced a running clock in the fourth quarter.
"They don't shoot a lot of 3s, but they are efficient when they do," Maron said. "It was kind of 'pick your poison' with us. We tried playing better in the post, but we weren't as good at getting to those shooters and they were knocking them down."
Scott scored 22 points to lead all scorers. Ragsdale led the 3-point shooters in the second half to finish with 19 and Noah Baca added 15. Nate Totel was a bright spot for Centaurus in the loss with 17 points and Owen Koonce finished with 12.
While disappointed in the loss Saturday, Centaurus feels it can hang its hat on a huge improvement from last season. The Warriors doubled their win total and advanced to the Great 8, the furthest they have gone under Maron.
"That's all about them," Maron said. "They have to go out and execute. They showed up everyday with energy and played extremely hard together. They are the ones that made that jump for this program based on their work."
Saturday also marked the end of the high school careers of seven seniors for Centaurus, who were freshman when Maron took over the program four years ago.
"We made this jump because of them," Maron said.
Lewis-Palmer 76, Centaurus 41
At Lewis-Palmer High School
Nate Totel 7 2-2 17, Owen Koonce 5 1-2 12, Joe Lynch 1 2-4 4, Maliek Swain 1 0-0 2, Quinn Rubin 0 2-2 2, Nick Vaver 0 2-2 2, Ben Pauletto 0 2-2 2. Totals 14 9-12 41.
Joel Scott 8 6-9 22, Matthew Ragsdale 7 2-2 19, Noah Baca 6 0-0 15, Tre McCullough 4 0-1 8, Ethan Forrester 1 0-0 3, Brayden Curry 1 0-0 2, Loren Phillips 1 0-0 2, Eddie Speller 1 0-0 2. Totals 29 7-14 76.
Score by quarters:Centaurus (18-8) 8 4 17 12 — 41
3-point field goals — Centaurus(4): Totel 3, Koonce; Lewis-Palmer(8): Baca 3, Ragsdale 3, Westfall, Forrester. Total fouls — Centaurus 14, Lewis-Palmer 10. Fouled out — none. Technical fouls — none.