Falcons get tough facing top foes

Addition of DCHS transfer makes team deep

Jim Benton
Highlands Ranch's Zach Braxton (34) looks to make a pass against Lincoln.
By Jim Benton
Posted

The Highlands Ranch boys basketball team appears ready to begin Continental League play.

The Falcons improved their record to 7-5 and looked sharp in polishing off Abraham Lincoln, 68-52, in the Falcons' final non-league game Jan. 11 in the Highlands Ranch gym.

"We're trying to improve each game out," said Falcons coach Bob Caton. "At the start of the year we had a couple kids hurt and we were trying to get the right pieces in the right places. Things are starting to fall into place."

Highlands Ranch opens league play Jan. 17 at Chaparral and the Falcons could be a contending team in the chase for the title. Highlands Ranch played five non-league games against teams ranked in the Top 10 of the CHSAA.com polls.

Zach Braxton, Evan Motlong and Ryley Stewart should help Highlands Ranch survive a demanding league schedule.

Braxton, a 6-foot-9 senior who is bound for Weber State, leads the team in scoring at 19.1 points a game and rebounding with 12.6 rebounds per contest.

Motlong, a 6-2 senior, has a 16.5 scoring average while Stewart, a 6-4 junior transfer from Douglas County, scored 16 points in his first game of the season for the Falcons against Lincoln.

"We have a really good chance to do well in our league," said Motlong. "We have a lot of shooters. With Ryley coming back we have somebody that can push it up. He's really fast, a good point guard, and he's tall so he can see everyone and Zach does a great job of finishing inside. We are playing good defense.

"I think at the beginning playing a lot of top 10 teams helped us get ready for league which is one of the toughest in the state. Playing those teams got us prepared, and showed us what we need to work on."

Motlong hit five consecutive 3-point baskets in the first quarter and finished with a team-high 18 points against the Lancers.

"I felt it after I hit a couple and everybody was like we're going to keep feeding you," Motlong said.

As Motlong said Stewart provides Highlands Ranch with a tall point guard who can score. He averaged 13 points a game as a freshman for Douglas County and was a second team All-League selection last season while scoring 15 points a game.

"It was hard having to sit on the sidelines watching the varsity play," admitted Stewart. "It felt good to play. I feel we're doing well. Our biggest thing is bringing the ball up court with pressure. If we can do that, we'll be fine."

Caton feels his team has improved with Stewart in the lineup.

"He gives us a multi-dimensional player," said Caton. "He can score, he can pass. He has pretty good tools. He's a nice guy to have."

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