MONUMENT — If basketball teams around the state weren't aware of Lewis-Palmer, they are now.
"We weren't a one or two-hit wonder, we're a good program and Pueblo East is a good program," Rangers coach Bill Benton said. "That's good basketball team that our guys came out and played really well against. We knew we were going to have to fight and we had to do all the little things right."
The defending champs found themselves off to a shaky start as the Rangers opened with an 11-3 run to start the game, forcing coach Mike Massaro to burn an early timeout.
The first quarter went through Scott as he accounted for 11 of the Rangers' 19 points, including two big three-pointers.
"Whatever my team needs is what I'll give them," Scott said. "They were sinking off of me and the three was open at first. Then they started closing in on me so I went with the drive and pull-up. They were trying to take charges.
The Eagles found some defensive stability in the second quarter, holding the Rangers to only three field goals the entire period. But they couldn't find the offensive output to close the lead. Despite allowing the three field goals for Lewis-Palmer, Pueblo East only managed one basket on offense — a three-pointer for Jon Whatley. The game went to halftime with the Rangers holding a 28-18 lead.
"We were attacking the basket and got a lot of good looks," Massaro said. "We couldn't hit early and we missed some free throws. That was it, they're a good ball club and if you don't capitalize when you're supposed to they're going to come down and make it hurt."
Massaro's halftime adjustments were aimed at limiting the damage that Scott could inflict. That allowed the Rangers to show off the full scope of their offense as other players were able to get involved. Joe DeCoud scored eight of his 10 points in the third quarter and Sam Strasburger helped the Rangers pull away by scoring 10 fourth quarter points.
Three other players besides Scott scored in double figures.
"Jonathan is fantastic, obviously, but everyone who plays is solid," DeCoud said. "I don't think you can shut Jonathan down, but when you focus on him, it's our job to help him out and we do that."
Pueblo East was without their star guard, Nick Fesmire, who has been bothered with a knee injury. The Rangers were able to exploit that hole and execute an impressive game plan which was more focused on defense than it was getting Scott the ball.
Benton was quick to point out that it wasn't a win against last year's champions that was so impressive, but it was their ability to keep the Eagle's point total to a surprisingly low level. This is the kind of defensive performance he's hoping to build his season around.
"I think the fact that we held them to under 40 points people will take notice of," Benton said. "Again, we have to string possessions together and we have to string games together because we have another tough one on Thursday."