Elijah Cherrington is not yet in top basketball shape.
However, he’s pretty close.
Cherrington, an All-Pioneer League wide receiver who helped Legend’s football team advance into the first round of the Class 5A playoffs, scored a game-high 26 points to lead the home-standing Titans to a 60-50 non-league win over Abraham Lincoln Dec. 6.
“It takes a little bit of time, probably a couple weeks to get into basketball shape,” said Cherrington. “It’s happening slowly. I’m taking it one step at a time. I’m maybe not at 100 percent yet.”
The 6-foot-4 senior looked sharp in the fourth quarter when he scored 11 points as the Titans, who were leading by just a point entering the final stanza, pulled away from the Lancers.
It was the second win in two outings to start the season for No. 10 Legend, a team that was a Class 5A state semifinalist last season.
“The senior leaders want the ball at the end of every game, making free throws and that’s what I wanted to do,” said Cherrington. “I’m looking to score more this year. We’re finding ourselves and it was definitely a good win over Lincoln.”
Legend coach Kevin Boley agreed.
“We’ve got some young guys who are gaining experience and we’ve got to rely on some seniors who have been there,” explained Boley. “It was a great win, a win we didn’t get last year.”
Cherrington and 6-8 senior Zach Mihalicz accounted for 15 of the 18 points the Titans scored in the decisive fourth quarter as Legend avenged last season’s 49-44 setback to the Lancers.
“That’s what you look for in those seniors and guys that have played in the Final Four,” said Boley. “He (Cherrington) needs to step up in those moments.”
Cherrington caught 51 passes for 1,017 yards and had 1,651 all-purpose yards during the football season but had only four points for the basketball team in Legend’s 69-67 win over Smoky Hill Dec. 4.
He played much better against the Lancers with 26 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal and one blocked shot. And, he was looking for the ball in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.
“We were fortunate because he had about a week and a half between the end of the football season and when we started,” said Boley. “We just told Elijah to stay away. He’s such a great athlete. I’m not sure great athletes need a whole lot of time to get going.”
Mihalicz had 17 points and eight rebounds for the Titans and sophomore point guard Riley Matticks added 12 points.
In other action
In other opening week games, Zach Braxton led No. 4 Highlands Ranch to a 57-54 victory over Lakewood on Dec. 3. The senior hit a jumper and then cashed in on two free throws with less than a minute to play to seal the victory. He finished with 22 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots.
Rangeview, ranked No. 5 in the preseason rankings, defeated No. 9 Chaparral, 74-70 in overtime. Jerrod Doran’s 19 points was high for the Wolverines.
Brady Subart’s 18 points led No. 8 Mountain Vista to a 91-47 win over Rocky Mountain on Dec. 2.
Valor Christian, the top-ranked Class 4A team, whipped Ralston Valley, 63-43, Dec. 3 and knocked off Evergreen 72-38 on Dec. 7. Garrett Baggett scored 28 points against Ralston Valley and tossed in nine points in the romp over the Cougars.