First-year head coach Joel Lommasson smiles at the result after teaching an offensive scheme to his players. Lommasson said he expects his Golddiggers team to be tough, gritty and defensively sound in 2023.
First-year head coach Joel Lommasson smiles at the result after teaching an offensive scheme to his players. Lommasson said he expects his Golddiggers team to be tough, gritty and defensively sound in 2023. Credit: John Renfrow

Last season, Clear Creek struggled to stack victories with the Golddiggers trading wins and losses in nearly every other game on their way to a 9-11 overall record. However, the team hung tough in the 3A/2A/1A Mile High League, going 6-6 to finish right in the middle. 

This year, first-year head coach Joel Lommasson is confident the team can be more consistent, but it will come down to defensive toughness and discipline. The good news is the Golddiggers only lost three seniors and brought back a hungry team eager for more regular visits to the win column. 

“Steal. The. Ball.” Lommasson said in the three words he wants his team’s identity to be. 

Lommasson moved to Colorado from Louisville, Kentucky in 2016 to take a teaching and coaching job at Bruce Randolph High School in Denver. 

Now at Clear Creek, he said he’s impressed with his group so far. 

“I’ve always run a defense where we’re focused on turning over the other team and getting up and down,” Lommasson said. “And a lot of the teams that I’ve had, we really haven’t had guys who shoot the ball very well, and I think I’ve got some guys this year that can really shoot the ball.” 

Clear Creek boys basketball players take a break on the sideline between drills. The Golddiggers hope to stack more wins in 2023 while making other teams turn the ball over.  Credit: John Renfrow

Lommasson said anyone around the Clear Creek program understands that seniors Tyler O’Brien and Collin Hendrickson are both primed for a big year. 

“We want our seniors to really contribute quite a bit on the offensive end,” Lommasson said. “But I’m also really looking for a 10th-grade student, Zephyr Schuessler, to step up and take a big load as well, both offensively and defensively, leadership, all of those things.” 

Clear Creek handled the less formidable teams in their league last season with relative ease but fell to schools like Denver Christian, Heritage Christian and SkyView Academy often. 

The top of the 3A/2A/1A Mile High league was a bloodbath in 2022. Last season, five schools tied for first place with an .83 winning percentage. Denver Christian, Heritage Christian, SkyView Academy, Front Range Christian and Bishop Machebeuf all finished 10-2. 

After that, it’s a decent-sized dropoff. Clear Creek technically finished second in the league at 6-6, but that feels a world different from 10-2. 

Lommasson said it really just comes down to putting together a full-game performance every time they take the court. He’s in the process of teaching that cohesion now. 

“The third section of our practice is called segments,” he said. “We practice executing exactly what we’re trying to work on any given day, and we mix it up … We always have different situations. The skills we want them to exercise in the game, we want them proactively applying them in the practices.” 

It’s a tough league, and it can be hard to establish a culture in a coach’s first year, but Lommasson isn’t taking any goals off the table. 

He wants to win, and win now. 

Clear Creek is looking to the banners for inspiration and strength these days. The Golddiggers have been less than stellar in recent years, but a coaching change brings optimism for the team.  Credit: John Renfrow

“There’s so much that can happen during the course of the season, whether it’s injuries, academic ineligibility, someone moving,” Lommasson said. “There’s all these things that can impact you during the course of the season. But we just want to make sure we have a chance to win every single game, and we think we can do that. We think we have different ways to attack different teams.”

Clear Creek’s schedule isn’t yet released, but check in the coming weeks for the Golddigger’s full slate of games in 2023.

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