As Lewis-Palmer boys basketball chases a state title, legacy remains a factor

Lewis-Palmer boys basketball

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

MONUMENT — In the second half, the Lewis-Palmer boys basketball team plays toward the east basket. Behind the basket, sits every state championship banner that Rangers have won. Not just in basketball, but in all sports.

It's fitting.

The Rangers, like any team, are pushing forward. They are trying to play toward that state championship. As consistently as they've been in the championship running, five years since the last title win can feel like a long time.

"I think it shows just how much has to go right for a team," coach Bill Benton said. "It's not just about being the most talented. It's not just about being the hardest worker. You have to have some of both of those."

Right now it seems like the Class 4A CHSAANow.com No. 1 Rangers (12-0 overall, 5-0 Pikes Peak Athletic Conference) do have a little bit of both.

When watching Benton's teams, there is no doubt there is talent. Joel Scott and Matthew Ragsdale can score at will and get plenty of offensive support from the likes of Salim Nehme and Ethan Forrester.

And when team is on the defensive side of the ball executing a 1-2-2 half court press, the hard work is on display.

Lewis-Palmer came away with a 58-49 win over Discovery Canyon on Wednesday and needed every bit of talent and every bit of hard work to win.

It might be fair to say the Thunder (7-6, 2-3) is one of maybe three teams that has put a legitimate scare into last year's 4A runner-up.

Lewis-Palmer boys basketball

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

After three quarters, Discovery Canyon had a one-point edge. The Rangers didn't do themselves any favors by missing eight-straight free throws in the third quarter. But facing adversity and battling back from it is more of what Benton believes goes into a championship team. And he makes sure his guys know it.

"Tonight, that makes us better moving on," Ragsdale said. "We played a bigger team and not everything was going our way. We just have to trust the process and stick together as a team and keep playing hard."

The results can be fruitful and Scott has seen it first hand. He watch as three older brothers, Josh, Jordan and Jonathan, all came through the program. All three have a state championship ring to their names.

As Joel hunts for his ring, he'll sometimes find himself chatting with his brothers about their successes and hoping to understand what helped those teams stand tall at the end of the season.

"It comes up every now and then," Scott said. "We've talked about what they did with their coaches and what their process was. I see what they have to say."

Just like the 2012 and 2013 state title teams, a Scott is playing a crucial role this year. He was held scoreless in the first half against Discovery Canyon and sat the entire second quarter with foul trouble. He led the Rangers in the second half with 17 points.

Ragsdale led the team overall with 20 points. And he may be the start of his own lineage story at Lewis-Palmer.

During halftime of the game his younger brother Noah, a freshman, hit a half court shot to win free Chick-Fil-A for a year.

"He gets buckets," Ragsdale said after seeing the video on Twitter.

He's in the Rangers basketball program. Like Joel Scott had to at one point, Noah will have to pay attention to his brother and the guys ahead of him. Just paying attention goes a long way to ensure longstanding success of a program.

"If guys aren't paying attention to what happened before them and the guys that did it, then they weren't doing their job," Benton said. "The groundwork has been laid. If Joel didn't pay attention to three older brothers coming through this program, he wasn't doing his job."

Whether it's a player like Scott who had brothers to learn from, Ragsdale who is setting a standard for his siblings, or any of the other players on the roster trying to match the feats of those that came before them, this version of the Rangers seems to be poised to add to the program's luster.

They seem ready to stand beside the teams who, not so long ago, set the expectations.

It doesn't matter if it's family or basketball, they're trying to carry on a legacy.