Chaparral, Ponderosa tangle on hardwood

Wolverines improve to 4-1 in Continental with crosstown win

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Chaparral's sub-.500 boys basketball record is a little deceiving.

Earlier this season the Wolverines lost eight consecutive games, four in the Mission Prep Christmas Classic and three others to Top 10 Colorado teams, and their won-lost record dipped to 3-10.

However, Chaparral is starting to play good basketball and the Wolverines' 57-45 Continental League win over Ponderosa on Jan. 31 marked the team's fourth straight victory. Chaparral boasted a 4-1 league mark heading into a Feb. 4 game at Rock Canyon and a Feb. 6 date at home with Douglas County.

“It's a little different group out there now,” admitted coach Rob Johnson. “We have everybody healthy except for (Brandon) Malone. With (Chris) Moody back in our rotation it allows (Hayden) Dalton and Jake Holtzmann to get a little more rest.

“With them all in there now we have guys that are 6-6 or bigger that can play. We've added that extra guy that has size and can play that really helps our rotation and effectiveness on the floor.”

Holtzmann, a 6-foot-6 junior, has been the Wolverines leading scorer all season and is averaging 16.2 points a game. Moody, a 6-6 junior, has played four games since returning from ankle surgery and a problem with his toe. The 6-7 Dalton, who was sidelined for four games, leads the team in rebounding and is scoring 9.5 ppg.

“We're tons better,” said Holtzmann. “Our chemistry has really come together, we're playing for each other now. We struggled a little bit early in the year but we've got guys back that were injured. We're playing like we know we can play.”

Holtzmann scored 15 points, had five assists and made 10 of 11 free throws in the win at Ponderosa. Sharpshooting junior Chase Coon had 12 points while Jerrod Doran and Moody each contributed 10 points. Moody had nine rebounds while Dalton had six boards, seven points and led the team with four steals.

“We have guys who can get rebounds, make plays on the rim, not just one guy, and we hopefully get touches from a lot of people and a lot of people shooting,” said Johnson. “When we get the ball moving well that's the balance you are talking about.

“We are getting a lot better ball movement and a lot more confidence moving the ball and getting open shots for Chase Coon and Jerrod Doran. There are other guys getting their opportunities.”

Coon hit two 3-pointers, Doran one and Moody one in the first quarter as Chaparral grabbed a one-point lead at 16-15. The Wolverines led 27-24 at halftime and pulled away thanks to a 7-0 run to end the third and start the fourth quarters.

“Four possessions,” exclaimed Ponderosa coach Mike Gibbs. “They hit four 3's in the first quarter and we had a bad rotation on defense and that's the game. We played them even the rest of the way but the first quarter those four 3's were daggers. The 3-point line was the difference.

“We played well, we had opportunities. I'm proud of the kids. … We'll be OK. This is not the same old Ponderosa basketball program. We're different.”

Johnson agreed that Ponderosa, a Class 4A team playing up against Class 5A teams in the Continental League, is a team to watch.

“Ponderosa played real well,” said Johnson. “We were in a dogfight. Early in the game I never think 3-pointers are that important. Sometimes they hurt you. When you make some early shots like that sometimes your defense gets a little lazy or your offense gets to the point where you are just trying to look for threes the whole time.

“I thought we kind of went away from going inside. It kind of helps you but kind of hurts you later on.”

Jonathan Barnes, Ponderosa's 6-10 senior who will be playing for Wyoming next season, led the Mustangs with 13 points.

“JB was awesome inside,” said Holtzmann. “He's huge and he can muscle to do things so we just had to slow him down as much as possible. We did better in the second half of getting rebounds.

“We have tons of guys that can score. We have a little more balance now. I'm able to play better with my teammates now and we are able to get each other open shots.”

Ponderosa (9-7, 1-4 Continental) lost 75-61 in a Feb. 1 game at Cheyenne Mountain and the Mustangs battled leading Mountain Vista Feb. 4 before another challenge at Legend Feb. 7.

The Mustangs will need a few wins to impress the basketball selection committee to earn a spot in the Class 4A state playoffs.

“It's up to the higher source but we want to make sure we get in by winning basketball games,” said Gibbs.

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