Boys Basketball: Smoky Hill headed back to 5A Great 8 with win over Highlands Ranch

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AURORA | The Smoky Hill boys basketball team won its first home game of the 2018-19 season against Highlands Ranch and bookended its perfect home slate with another victory over the Falcons.

The seventh-ranked Buffaloes built a double-digit lead on No. 23 Highlands Ranch after one quarter of their Class 5A Sweet 16 state basketball playoff game Wednesday night and maintained a comfortable edge all the way to the end of a 53-36 victory.

Smoky Hill sophomore Jordan Whitaker (20) gets to the basket as Highlands Ranch’s Michael Willman defends during the second half of the Buffs’ 53-36 Class 5A Sweet 16 victory on Feb. 27, 2019, at Smoky Hill High School. (Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel)

Senior Kenny Foster scored a season-low 11 points — less than half his season average — but sophomores Jalen Weaver and Jordan Whitaker combined to hit five 3-pointers and score 25 points to help Smoky Hill finish 12-0 on the season at home.

Coach Anthony Hardin’s Buffaloes, who won by double-digits despite not attempting a single free throw, improved to 20-5 and qualified for the 5A Great 8 for the second straight season. Smoky Hill has a quarterfinal contest against No. 2 Mountain Vista (23-2) at 5 p.m. March 2 at the Denver Coliseum.

To get off to a fast start against Highlands Ranch — which they beat by 31 points in their first home game Nov. 28 — the Buffs got 3-pointers from four different players (Foster, Weaver, Whitaker and junior Quinten Rock) to go up by 10 points after one quarter and maintained at least a seven-point edge the rest of the way.

Coming off a road upset of No. 10 and fellow Continental League team Regis Jesuit on a buzzer-beater, the Falcons got a third of their offense from Tristan Hurdle’s five 3-pointers, but fell short of a rally when they mustered just a single point in the fourth quarter.

A victory over Mountain Vista would put Smoky Hill in the 5A Final Four for the first time since 2006.

Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Sentinel Prep Sports

(7) SMOKY HILL 53, (23) HIGHLANDS RANCH 36

Score by quarters:

High. Ranch  10  11  14  1 — 36

Smoky Hill    20  11  13  9 — 53

HIGHLANDS RANCH (36)

Yafet Mesfin 2 0-0 4, Ryker Cisarek 4 0-0 9, Konor Lathrop 3 2-5 8, Tristan Hurdle 5 0-0 15, Jason Simenthal 0 0-0 0, Keivon McGhee 0 0-0 0, Shadron Nash 0 0-1 0. Totals 14 2-6 36.

SMOKY HILL (53)

Quinten Rock 3 0-0 7, Jalen Weaver 5 0-0 13, Jordan Whitaker 5 0-0 12, Kenny Foster 5 0-0 11, Gawar Tuom 1 0-0 2, Anthony Cortez Latham 3 0-0 6, Dasani Darnell 1 0-0 2, DeAngelo Horn 0 0-0 0, Talyn Haskell 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 0-0 53.

3-point field goals — Highlands Ranch (6): Tristan Hurdle 5, Ryker Cisarek; Smoky Hill (7): Jalen Weaver 3, Jordan Whitaker 2, Kenny Foster, Quinten Rock. Total fouls — Highlands Ranch 7, Smoky Hill 12. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.