LONGMONT — The three most important letters for Kevin Mitchell and the Longmont boys basketball team might just be I, T, and S.
Well, other than W, I and N.
The Trojans are built on pressure defense, and part of that process is keeping opposing teams from getting into a set play in the half-court. On Tuesday night against Northern League rival Broomfield, the pressure up high gave the Eagles all kinds of fits, and the Trojans took advantage in a 50-33 victory at the LHS gym.
“(Assistant) coach (Doug) Johnson, I love him to death, and his motto is ITS — initiate the set,” Mitchell said. “That’s what we did the whole game.”
When guys run the floor, they get rewarded for the Trojans, too. Austin Kemp and Justinian Jessup, the notable 1-2 punch for LHS, were typically on the easy end of transition baskets, and Kemp finished with 20 points to lead all scorers including 17 in the first half.
Though Kemp did have some nice dribble-drives and a few pull-up jumpers, the senior was pleased with the way the defense turned into high-percentage baskets on the other end of the floor.
“We make defense our priority … we just pressure them all the way up,” Kemp said as LHS improved to 8-1 and 3-0 in league play. “We were able to get some turnovers off that.”
Longmont started the up-and-down play early, and Jessup did a little bit of everything as LHS jumped out to 16-7 first quarter lead. In the first 8 minutes alone, the sophomore standout had five rebounds, two steals and two assists. The Trojans took advantage of the thefts up high but also pushed the pace when they grabbed the boards.
Kemp hit three of his first four shots, converting a traditional 3-point play in transition to put LHS up 11-4 at the 3:45 mark, and Blake O’Grady nailed a 3-pointer with 1:09 left to make it 14-6. The Trojans outscored Broomfield (2-8, 0-3) by a 15-6 count in the second quarter and maintained that lead throughout the rest of the game.
Broomfield was dealt a big blow early on as top scorer Alec McLain tweaked his right hamstring and was forced to sit out the rest of the game. The matchup between Jessup and McLain was shaping up to be a pretty good one, but head coach Terrence Dunn couldn’t help but keep McLain out of the rest of the contest.
Jake Morris (seven points) and Payton Holloway (seven points) tried to pick up the slack, but the Eagles shot just 13 for 39 from the floor.
“It’s not getting any easier this season,” said Dunn, whose team had 23 turnovers. “Alec went down, and our guys continued to work hard. It wasn’t necessarily pretty but they continued to work. We have pride and desire to get better, no matter who is on the floor.”
Broomfield did play better defensively to start the second half, but Mitchell helped his team ride out the storm. The sophomore had a couple of nice drives off the free throw line, converting another 3-point play the hard way midway through to recharge his team. Mitchell finished with eight points.
“We just want to come out with the most intensity on both ends of the court. That’s what we always come out to do,” Mitchell said.
“When (McLain) went out, we just kept getting after it and I think it hurt them a lot,” Kemp added. “We’re going to need our big guys to step up as we move on in this conference. The big men are going to help us a lot — Kevin, Miles (Rivera), Tanner (Wilkey).”
Contact BoCoPreps.com Writer Adam Dunivan at 970-646-5816 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Longmont 50, Broomfield 33
At Longmont H.S.
BROOMFIELD (2-7, 0-2)
Sam Foster 1 0-1 2, Josh Williamson 0 0-2 0, Jake Morris 2 3-3 7, Nate Lehrenz 2 2-2 6, Noah Dohm 0 1-4 1, Alec McLain 1 0-0 2, Payton Holloway 3 1-3 7, Zach Grennan 1 0-0 2, Michael Wristen 2 0-2 4, Van Lindemann 1 0-0 2, Colt Burgesser 0 0-2 0. Totals 13 7-19 33.
LONGMONT (8-1, 2-0)
Brett Sterkel 0 1-2 1, Justinian Jessup 3 2-2 8, David Speidel 1 1-2 3, Cooper Rothe 1 0-0 2, Austin Kemp 7 6-10 20, Blake O’Grady 1 0-0 3, Kevin Mitchell 3 2-5 8, Tanner Wilkey 0 2-4 2, Miles Rivera 1 1-2 3. Totals 17 15-27 50.
Score by quarters
Broomfield 7 6 8 12 — 33
Longmont 16 15 12 7 — 50
3-point field goals: Broomfield (0); Longmont (1): O’Grady.