AURORA | To Tarren Storey-Way and Company, it always seems like the other team brings its best game whenever the Rangeview boys basketball team is in the gym.
That was the case for three-plus quarters Wednesday night, when Aurora Central stuck with the Raiders in a battle between teams undefeated in the EMAC before Rangeview’s depth and athleticism helped it pull away for a 66-50 victory.
A balanced effort for coach Shawn Palmer’s team saw sophomore Elijah Blake lead the way with 15 points, followed by junior Tyrei Randall with 13 and seniors Jalen Davis and Tim Wyatt with 11 apiece. The Raiders — who just survived against another feisty Aurora foe in Hinkley in their previous game — improved to 15-5 overall and moved to 6-0 atop the EMAC standings.
“A lot of teams play their best game against us, I don’t know why,” Storey-Way said. “We knew they were going to come out fast (after last game, an 86-60 Rangeview win at Aurora Central Jan. 15). Coach just said we should just keep doing our thing and not rush and we’d be OK. We played better as a team against them than the first time and that’s our main goal.”
Junior guard Ladarius Thomas went scoreless in the first quarter, but still finished with a game-high 20 points for coach Ian Calvert’s Trojans (13-7, 5-1), while foul-plagued junior Daytone Jennings finished with 14 and junior Elijah Coleman chipped in nine.
The first time the teams met came in non-league a few weeks earlier and Rangeview got up huge early and ran away with a 26-point victory that was never really close.
The rematch proved much more competitive, as it was tied at 17-17 after one quarter — thanks to Jalen Guidry’s miraculous 3-pointer before the buzzer for the Raiders — and Rangeview owned just a three-point edge at halftime.
“We knew it was going to be a battle and we knew it wasn’t going to be perfect,” Palmer said. “It’s hard to beat a good team twice. We played about as well as we could when we played them there and we knew that wasn’t their best effort, so we expected a competitive game and we got one.”
The Trojans found themselves in a 20-point hole after one quarter of the previous matchup, but actually led this one early and hung around with Jennings active in the paint and a lot of shots falling.
Calvert thought his team put a little bit too much stock in its hot shooting at the beginning.
“I think it was a little bit of fool’s gold for us early,” Calvert said. “We made several passes and hit some shots, then starting making fewer passes, but still made some shots. Then it felt like we decided we didn’t need to make as many passes and that caught up with us.”
Blake got hot in the third quarter to the tune of 10 points as the Raiders added five points to their lead going into the final period despite eight in the quarter from Thomas.
A critical juncture for the Trojans came late in the period when Jennings came up with a steal and finished it with a layup, but was whistled for half of a double foul on the trip back up the court. It was Jennings’ fourth foul and he had to go to the bench in a 39-37 game and Blake made back-to-back 3-pointers in the last 45 seconds to push the lead to eight.
Randall hit a 3-pointer in the opening minute of the fourth quarter to up the advantage to double digits and Rangeview never let the lead slip below nine points the rest of the way as it made just enough free throws down the stretch.
“Nobody played great, but we had good contributions at the right time,” Palmer said.
The Raiders face Westminster, Prairie View and Gateway in their final three games and they now hold a one-game lead over Northglenn and Aurora Central — each 5-1 in the conference — plus wins over both the Norse and Trojans.
Because of a flooded gym, Aurora Central will play Brighton, Northglenn and Hinkley on the road to finish out the season.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
RANGEVIEW 66, AURORA CENTRAL 50
Score by quarters:
Aur. Central 17 9 11 13 — 50
Rangeview 17 12 16 21 — 66
AURORA CENTRAL (50)
Ladarius Thomas 6 5-7 20, Marquise Johnson 1 2-2 4, Elijah Coleman 3 2-4 9, CJ Porter 0 0-0 0, Daytone Jennings 7 0-2 14, Mamadou Balde 1 0-0 2, Taylor Thornton 0 1-2 1, Larry Thomas 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 10-17 50.
Jalen Davis 2 7-14 11, Tyrei Randall 5 2-2 13, Elijah Blake 5 3-3 15, Tarren Storey-Way 2 0-0 4, Elijah Reed 4 0-1 8, Tim Wyatt 4 3-4 11, Jalen Guidry 1 0-0 3. Totals 23 15-24 66.
3-point field goals — Aurora Central (4): Ladarius Thomas 3, Elijah Coleman; Rangeview (4): Elijah Blake 2, Jalen Guidry, Tyrei Randall. Total fouls — Aurora Central 20, Rangeview 18. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.