AURORA | Undefeated seasons rarely come without adversity and the Rangeview boys basketball team had plenty of it Tuesday.
Facing a hungry, athletic, hot-shooting city rival, Aurora Central, and losing leading scorer Tyrei Randall to two technical fouls, coach Shawn Palmer’s Raiders appeared to be on the ropes a bit.
But for the third time this season, Rangeview used its defense and depth to rally from a double-digit deficit and keep its undefeated season alive with a 68-56 victory over the Trojans in a non-league meeting of the two EMAC powers.
“We’ve been there before (down double figures) and we talked about how the script couldn’t have gone better for us,” Palmer said. “We can all learn from this, including Tyrei. We had Tyrei’s back and he can learn from this about playing with passion, but not getting out of control…We’ve fought adversity all year and tonight we created our own.”
Senior EJ Reed scored 11 points in each half for a game-high 22 and Kris Hollins, Calvin Collins and others contributed in key spots as the Raiders — ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press Class 5A media poll that came out earlier in the day — came together collectively to get to 13-0.
The teams will face either other again in an EMAC contest on Feb. 9 at Aurora Central.
For awhile, it looked like coach Ian Calvert’s Trojans (9-5) might be the team to finally knock off Rangeview, as they built a double-digit lead on the outside shooting prowess of seniors Elijah Coleman (17 points) and Ladarius Thomas (17) plus seven free throws awarded after Randall was called for a defensive foul on a 3-point shot and picked up two technicals with 1:38 left in the first half.
Coleman and Thomas combined to make four of the seven free throws and an Usman Koromah inside basket on the ensuing possession gave Aurora Central its largest lead at 39-25 with just over a minute to play in the half. Five free throws — one from Elijah Blake and two apiece from Hollins and Reed — closed the gap to nine points at the break.
Rangeview’s trap made a huge difference in the second half and the Raiders limited the Trojans to single digits in the third and fourth quarters as they began to launch their comeback. They had rallied from a 14-point deficit to beat Cherry Creek and a 12-point margin against Fort Collins earlier in the year, so they knew how to get back into games.
“We made some changes in the second half defensively because they played great in the first half,” Palmer said. “How many contested shots did they make? Those were the shots we wanted them to take, but they kept making contested jumper after contested jumper, so we had to make them uncomfortable a little bit. We started trapping in the half court and finally started to cause some turnovers.”
A monster jam by Hollins ignited the crowd and Rangeview trailed by just one point going into the final period.
“I had to give them a little bit of the old me,” said Hollins, who finished with 10 points. “My leg’s been hurting, so I’m getting back. That was a really good game-changer for us.”
Marquis Kraemer’s layup on the opening possession of the fourth quarter put the Raiders ahead for good.
Collins — who scored nine points, one short of matching his season-high — knocked down his second 3-pointer of the second half midway through the period to give Rangeview the separation it needed to pull away.
“It felt good, I’m always waiting for my opportunity to contribute however I can,” Collins said. “My teammates trust me and I just did what I could.”
The Raiders will open EMAC play against Northglenn on Thursday missing Randall — who scored his season high of 26 points in a win over Boulder a few days earlier — but that’s where the team’s uncommon depth will again come into play.
“We always have people ready to pick it up,” Hollins said.
Aurora Central faces Prairie View on Thursday.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
(2) RANGEVIEW 68, AURORA CENTRAL 56
Score by quarters:
Aur. Central 14 25 9 8 — 56
Rangeview 17 13 17 21 — 68
AURORA CENTRAL (56)
Ladarius Thomas 6 3-4 17, Usman Koromah 2 0-0 4, Larry Thomas 0 0-0 0, Elijah Coleman 6 2-7 17, Kelsey Williams 4 3-5 12, CJ Porter 2 0-0 4, Dom Jackson 1 0-0 2, Fred Ankomah 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 8-16 56.
Jalen Guidry 1 0-1 2, Tyrei Randall 1 0-0 3, Kris Hollins 2 6-6 10, Elijah Blake 3 3-4 9, EJ Reed 7 7-7 22, Matthew Johnson 2 2-3 7, Calvin Collins 3 1-2 9, Marquis Kraemer 1 2-2 4, Donyvan Jackson 1 0-0 2, Stacie Reed 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 21-25 68.
3-point field goals — Aurora Central (6): Elijah Coleman 3, Ladarius Thomas 2, Kelsey Williams; Rangeview (5): Calvin Collins 2, Matthew Johnson, Tyrei Randall, EJ Reed. Technical fouls — Rangeview: Randall 2.