An opposing coach in the Front Range League marveled over Fairview senior Jalen Page’s game when looking back on the year.
“The best player on the best team,” Broomfield’s Terrence Dunn said. His biggest weakness? “His humility.”
It’s a telling avowal for the area’s best, and perhaps, most unselfish player.
For Page, “my biggest role is to just do whatever I need to do to win the game.”
When creating the optimal basketball player, the Knights’ uber-talented 6-foot-5 forward, named the 2019-20 BoCoPreps.com player of the year, had all the attributes to maul opponents and put up flashy numbers. He just usually didn’t.
He was an efficient shooter with a career average at 55 percent. He normally took on the other team’s star player defensively and was also a nearly mistake-free decision maker, averaging around one turnover a game despite playing nearly every minute of every quarter in the winter.
What he lacked was volume, attempting less than 10 shots in 18 of 26 games in his senior season. Even as the team’s best player, he never had a problem taking a secondary role on the offense.
He fit to his teammates and not the other way around.
“He’s a kid that we really tried to get to be a little more selfish for lack of a better word,” Fairview coach Patrick Burke laughed. “But he cares so much about his teammates and he cares so much about getting a good look at the basket and defending and helping his teammates out.
“He’s always the guy that averages around 14 points and five or six rebounds (per game) because he didn’t care if he had the most amount of points. He didn’t care if he had the most rebounds. He cared about winning and figuring out how he fit into finding a way to win.”
The coach paused for a moment.
“And that’s who he is. That’s who he is. And when your best player is that kid, you have every opportunity to be successful.”
In his final season, Page quietly led the Knights to a third straight league title, giving him a 34-2 record in the FRL over his career. He had them two wins away from the boys basketball program’s first state championship in 39 years before the cancellation of the remainder of the state tournaments due to the advance of COVID-19.
The ending was hard to cope with, he said. Grabbing some sandwiches with all of his teammates helped ease the pain.
“I think just hanging out as a team one last time was a good way to deal with it,” he said. It’s seemingly how Page dealt with everything in the sport.
Weeks before, Fairview, coming off a first-round bye as the No. 2 seed, found themselves hanging on to a one-point lead in the final seconds against upset-minded Fountain-Fort Carson.
The Trojans with the ball, Page gathered the team around in a timeout.
“Everyone on the team listens when he speaks,” Burke said. “He didn’t speak a ton. But when it was time, he had their attention.”
Added Page: “I was just saying we had to play the best defense of our lives. If we did that, we were going to win this game.”
The Trojans missed at the buzzer and the Knights moved on.
Then in the quarterfinals — and what would be Page’s final game — the senior put the team on his back as the Knights rallied from a double-digit deficit against Chaparral. He scored nine of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, including a crucial 3 down the stretch — “the biggest 3 I’ve been a part of”, Burke said.
“He just does so much,” the coach added of Page, also the FRL player of the year. “He is so important to who we are and what we did.”