Lewis Palmer Advances to 4A State Championship
BOULDER—Lewis-Palmer lost the first game of the season all the way back on December 2nd, 2011.
They have not lost since, and are one victory away from capturing a 4A state championship.
Lewis-Palmer outlasted the very talented Valor Christian Eagles Thursday night 70-59 at the Coors Event Center. The Rangers (26-1) have been downright dominant this season, and have now won an astounding 26 straight basketball games.
“It shows a lot of toughness,” said Rangers head coach Russ McKinstry. “The nice thing is we just keep getting better every day. We get one more game and we hope to improve a little more. I am just extremely proud of our guys.”
In this year’s state tournament, Lewis-Palmer has outscored their opponents 74 – 49. Lewis Palmer has been such a force in large part because of Josh Scott, the favorite to win 4A Mr. Basketball this season.
Scott took awhile to get things going, but when the fourth quarter came around, he was an absolute beast. He scored 14 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter alone, and made sure his Rangers would not be knocked out in the semifinals for the third consecutive season.
“I didn’t think I played bad until the fourth quarter, but I didn’t think I made my mark. They always say it’s not how you start its how you end it and I think I ended it really well,” said Scott who also pulled down 10 rebounds to notch a double double..
The Rangers kept giving Scott isolated looks during the final stanza. He kept taking the ball the rack strong and consistently converted his opportunities. At one point in the fourth quarter, Scott scored 11 consecutive points for his team.
“When you get to the fourth quarter and you are playing for a state championship, you would be dumb not to go to him. That’s common sense and I think there would be 5,000 people here who would agree with that. So all we did was clear it out and said hey, go to work big boy. That’s not just coaching. It’s also tremendous play on his part,” said Coach McKinstry.
Scott did have help from his Rangers teammates, especially one in particular. Junior Justin Smith had an outstanding game, with 26 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks. He was also four of seven from downtown, and was responsible for the most electrifying play of the game. With less than a minute remaining, Smith had a highlight reel baseline jam that put Lewis-Palmer up 66-58. It was the exclamation point on a resounding victory.
Valor Christian was led by Max McCaffrey with 22 points and Chase Foster with 20. Foster hit a deep three with 1:30 remaining in the game to cut the deficit to 62-58, but that was as close as the Eagles would get. Buckets by Smith and Scott down the stretch sealed the victory for the Rangers, who could not be happier for the opportunity to play for a state title Saturday night.
“Some of us have been waiting three years for this,” said Scott.
“I’m just proud of everyone stepping up in pressure situations and making plays,” said Coach McKinstry.
“It’s not who is the best team right now. It is who is the toughest team. Who is going to get boards. Who is going to get loose ball. That’s what it will be about.”
Lewis-Palmer is one win away from their school’s second state title.
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