Pine Creek boys basketball starts with statement win over Cheyenne Mountain

COLORADO SPRINGS — Both the Cheyenne Mountain Indians and the Pine Creek Eagles boys basketball are starting the 2014-15 season with a totally clean slate.

Pine Creek coach Joe Rausch opened his first season with the Eagles after a stint at Sand Creek, and Indians head man Bryse Velasquez began his tenure, taking over for J'on St. Clair who moved on to Rampart.

It was the veteran coach in Rausch who walked away the victor, leading his Eagles (1-0 overall) to a 74-62 win over the Indians (0-1) in the first game of the season for both squads.

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

"We've got some issues that we certainly need to work on," Rausch said. "We have some things to work on, but we'll take this one, it was a nice first win for us."

The Eagles took some time to get their offense rolling, trailing 14-13 after the first quarter. But that's when the skies opened up and started raining three's on the Indians. The Eagles found plenty of open looks the rest of the way, scoring 33 points from behind the arc in the final three quarters.

"If you noticed our size, we don't have a whole lot of height so we need to play a little unconventional," Rausch said. "If we get those open threes, we're going to take them."

A 38-26 lead for the Eagles at halftime would only grow thanks in part to Jared Savage, who is fresh off winning a Class 4A state football championship on Saturday. Savage led the team with 17 points, but was big on the defensive end of the floor as well.

Much like his football team, Savage is aware that this team's success will greatly depend on its performance on the defensive side of the ball while still being able to knock down key shots.

"Defense is definitely going to be the key to us winning," Savage said. "If we can exploit teams with our shooting, there's not going to be a lot of people that can stop us when we're on fire like that."

The Eagles built a 16-point cushion after three quarters, leading 56-40. That put them in a position to coast the final eight minutes and walk away with a key first win of the season.

The Indians — a final four team last year — didn't necessarily lack the talent to content with Pine Creek. Cheyenne held a one-point lead after the first quarter and showed signs of being able to push the floor and dominate in the low post.

But Velasquez was disappointed with the team's effort from the start and felt that they didn't work as hard as they could have once the game tipped-off.

"I don't think we defended like we wanted to defend, we didn't play as hard as we should have played," Velasquez said. "I don't know if it was because it was the first game or we just weren't ready to play."

Despite the tough loss, Velasquez didn't see any overly glaring issues that will hinder the success of his team this year, but knows there is some urgency for the players to clean up their mistakes moving forward.

"All of the mistakes we made tonight are easy fixes," he said. "But it's all about 'Do I want to fix it? Do I want to get back on defense and contest threes?' We'll adjust and we'll be ready to go on Friday."