FORT COLLINS — Rangeview boys basketball struggled mightily in the first half of the Fort Collins Tournament. The Raiders trailed by seven points (24-17) after shooting just 4-of-19 from the field.
But then Rangeview (4-1) went on a second half surge, outscoring Fort Collins 34-20 to earn the tourney crown in a gritty 51-44 victory.
Early on, Fort Collins (3-2) put on a shooting clinic from downtown.
“They made five of their first six threes,” Rangeview coach Shawn Palmer said of the Lambkins. “I think three of them were contested. I mean, they were just hitting shots.”
Against an ultra-athletic Rangeview lineup, Fort Collins struggled getting anything in the paint, but the Lambkins took a 15-12 first quarter lead, as all their points came via three.
In the second quarter, Fort Collins cooled off, but Rangeview went into a deep freeze going 1/8 from the field and scoring only five points.
“We kept our composure pretty well, but it was 24-17 at halftime,” Palmer said. “I was more concerned about the 17 than the 24. We were trying to do a little too much. We want to have a pace up and down. Holy Family did a nice job last night, too, of slowing us down.
"Fort Collins, their defensive transition was really good and they did some traps to slow us down a little bit. We just have to learn how to keep the pace going.”
6-foot-6 Rangeview senior swingman Jalen Davis, who was quiet early in the game other than a thunderous alley-oop jam in the first quarter off a pass from Tyrei Randall, said the Raiders showed their grit in the second half.
“In that situation when you’re down at halftime, it’s easy to just put your head down and let the other team keep drilling away, drilling away, drilling away,” Davis said. “But, it’s hard to take it personal and say, ‘We need to win the game.’ We came too far today to lose. It’s just about grinding that win out.”
In the second half, Davis and company took it personal and started to impose their will defensively on Fort Collins.
The Raiders outscored the host team 15-5 in the third as their immense athleticism held the Lambkins to only two field goals and zero three-pointers. Davis and fellow senior Taren Storey-Way, a 6’4 big, combined for 12 points in the quarter. Davis was a major matchup problem for Fort Collins with his size, scoring, and playmaking.
“He’s been big for us all year,” Palmer said. “He’s really hard to guard, he’s got so many tools. When he wants to get to the basket, you can’t stop him with one guy. He’s been shooting the ball pretty well too. He did a really nice job attacking and getting to the line and he’s getting better defensively.
"He’s one of those guys who gambles a little too much, but the last two nights have probably been the two best defensive games he’s played for us in his high school career.”
Rangeview took a 32-29 lead into the fourth. Davis and senior guard Tim Wyatt, each scoring six points in the final quarter, helped give Rangeview a little breathing room late with a six to eight point lead much of the fourth.
The Raiders found a way to earn the tourney crown in Fort Collins’ gym.
“We didn’t score a ton of points in the second half, but we defended a lot better,” Palmer said. “We’re so good in transition, especially Jalen Davis. Taren Storey-Way has been really tough on the block, but their big kid did a really nice job of just making it difficult and he’s a big guy, too.
"We missed twelve free-throws, which makes it hard to close the game like we should. But I was glad we were put into a position both nights, last night and tonight, where we had to defend to win the game.
“I think we’re starting to see what we can do defensively. Guys are buying in. We’re not quite there, but we’re getting there.”
Getting there — as in holding Fort Collins to 13-of-45 shooting from the field.
The Lambkins hit 10 three-pointers total, four by Andrew Pfaffinger (14 points total) and four by Brydon Campanella (12 points), but attempted 29 threes to make the 10.
6-foot-9 Tristan Von Nieda, a thick, strong player, was tough defensively for the Lambkins and had nine points.
Like most teams in mid-December, Rangeview is just starting to figure out what they can become. But, they can certainly hang their hat on a defense that held all three tournament opponents to under 35 percent shooting.
“It starts with our center, Taren,” Davis said of the Raiders’ defense. “He brings the effort every day in practice. We’re all athletic and can come out and do amazing things with our bodies, but we just need to be a whole with everyone in help, everyone’s denying the ball, and taking it personal and saying, 'I’m going to lock my man up every night.'"
Davis finished with a game-high 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Rangeview. Randall, a junior lefty wing who is silky smooth, had 12 points. Wyatt chipped in 10.