LONGMONT — Daniel Griffith has already seen the proof that the Peak to Peak boys basketball team has the size and athleticism to compete with anyone this year.
Getting wins, though, means finishing games, and that’s an early work in progress for the Pumas so far.
Peak to Peak dropped to 0-2 on the young season with another close loss, this time a 75-65 heartbreaker in double-overtime to Denver Science & Tech in the first round of the Skyline Falcon Challenge.
Jonathan Dee hit a 3-pointer with just seconds left in regulation to give the Pumas a 56-54 lead, but the Knights were able to send it to overtime with a full-court drive and bucket, and DSST capitalized on a few more turnovers in the extra time to win its season opener.
A three-win team last year, the Pumas have been right on the brink in both of their games so far. Tuesday, they fell to Platte Valley by a slim 56-50 margin.
“We want to be a quick team … running a fast break and running as fast as we can,” Griffith said after posting a 20-point night. “We played this team last year and lost by like 40. To take them to double-overtime, for us, shows a lot of improvement.
“We’re going to keep running.”
Peak to Peak led by as much as 45-32 in the third quarter, but turnovers plagued the young team down the stretch. The Pumas had 33 turnovers for the game, with 11 of those coming in the third quarter and 21 came in the second half and overtime periods.
DSST employed a full-court press for most of the game, and that gave Peak to Peak the most trouble. When they were able to break that press, the athleticism shone brightly, especially with Griffith’s ability to drive to the basket.
“The turnovers have killed us the first two games, and we’re just panicking a bit when we get pressured,” said coach Tony Peters. “I think we’re going to be able to score points. I put a goal on them to try and score 68 a game. They’re close. We also need to work a little harder on the defensive side of the game.”
The Knights, who made it to the third round of the Class 3A State Tournament last year, had some explosive guards. Blake Pullen scored six of his 14 points in the overtime periods, and Maximo Medina had seven of his 18 in that span, too.
Medina was the one that drove the baseline for the game-tying shot in regulation, hitting a tough bucket with just 3 seconds left after Dee had nailed a perimeter shot with 13 ticks remaining.
Peak to Peak’s inside men gave the Knights fits in the paint for most of the game, but Mitchell Ward was injured in the third quarter and did not return, and Peter Starbuck fouled out.
Having those two, Peters said, would have made a big difference down the stretch.
“When Mitchell went down, that definitely hurt us,” Peters said. “He’s athletic and he’s really one of our leaders.”
Dee was hot in the second half for Peak to Peak, scoring all of his 17 points in that time. Ward scored six points before his injury, and Starbuck (seven points) and Tommy Shriver (eight points) gave the Pumas the interior presence they missed last year.
“Our bigs are way stronger this year, I mean, I was the third-tallest kid on our team last year,” Griffith said. “We’ve got a good new feel, and some JV players coming up that have made improvement.
“I think however many guys we have on our roster, we’re that deep.”
Follow Adam on Twitter: twitter.com/adamdunivan24
DSST 75, PEAK TO PEAK 65, 2OT
At Skyline Falcon Challenge
Pullen 6 2-5 14, Wiggans 1 1-2 3, Heien 7 0-0 17, Sandoval 5 1-3 12, Medina 7 2-4 18, Abdi 3 3-4 9, Elbashir 1 0-0 2. Totals 30 9-18 75.
PEAK TO PEAK (0-2)
Jonathan Dee 6 0-0 17, Seth Bussinger 1 1-2 3, Daniel Griffith 6 7-8 20, Sam Giles 2 0-0 4, Mitchell Ward 3 0-0 6, Peter Starbuck 3 1-2 7, Tommy Shriver 3 2-4 8. Totals 24 11-16 65.
Score by quarters:
DSST 15 10 16 15 5 14 — 75
Peak to Peak 16 15 16 9 5 4 — 65
3-point field goals — DSST (6): Heien 3, Medina 2, Sandoval; Peak to Peak (6): J. Dee 5, Griffith. Total fouls — DSST 15, Peak to Peak 21. Fouled out — Starbuck.