AURORA — To beat a giant — a Goliath of sorts — it takes courage and discipline, among other things. And unless one is aided by some divine intervention, it takes more than just the miraculous efforts of just one man.
The Overland Trailblazers knew this as they paid a visit to Eaglecrest High School Wednesday night and behind a dominant total team effort, they pulled off the 63–41 upset over the CHSAANow.com No. 2-ranked school in the state and the recently dubbed ninth best team in the country by MaxPreps.
However, don’t be fooled as the Traiblazers (14-3 overall, 7-2 Centennial League) are no “David”; in large part because they have a giant of their own in senior De’Ron Davis. He not only willed his team to victory through his leadership and communication on the floor, but his physical presence was a game-changing factor.
“The thing with De’Ron is he’s a really good basketball player and he doesn’t need to score for his team to be successful,” Eaglecrest coach John Olander said after the loss. “You’re not going to get very many rebounds when he’s in there, but they're a really good basketball team and when you have De’Ron sitting underneath the basket, every single shot is contested. With him in there, you have to play a perfect game.”
Unfortunately for the Raptors (17-1, 8-1), they played anything but a perfect game, while the Trailblazers themselves exuded near perfection.
From the opening tip, Overland was extremely aggressive, specifically on the perimeter. Colbey Ross, the Raptors’ star junior guard, was faced with suffocating defense every time he had the ball in his hands, practically eliminating him from the contest. Senior guard Jervae Robinson of Overland led the charge when it came to shutting down Eaglecrest’s top playmaker.
“We pulled this off by team defense. We came out to play hard," Robinson said. "We wanted to get back to where we were at the beginning of the season and just get some dog in us, just fight.”
When asked about the game-plan coming into tonight’s game, Overland coach Danny Fisher couldn’t stress enough how important defensive execution was from his team and how it was his team’s senior leadership that really placed the hones on themselves to come out prepared, rather than him preparing them.
“It was nothing I did, it was the seniors taking accountability and taking ownership of the team and holding each other accountable, especially defensively,” Fisher explained. “After Grandview, we were all just a little bit confused and that shook us a bit and that next day, our seniors put their arms around the team and said ‘here’s how we need to ride this out’.”
Going into halftime, Overland converted two separate and-one opportunities in the final minute of the second quarter, helping push them to a 34-20 lead.
With the home crowd and student section stunned, Olander knew he had to make some adjustments to change the tide of the game and get Ross going, should his team look to hold onto their undefeated record.
“We tried to spread the floor a little bit to give (Colby) a little bit more space where we weren’t screening, we were just cutting, to try to get some backdoors,” Olander said. “Just try to get a little more space; they’re aggressive defensively so we were trying to get some hand-check calls, try to get to the free throw line. We just couldn’t make enough shots and I thought we missed some critical free throws…and that’s going to be hard to come back from against those guys.”
The third quarter turned disastrous for Eaglecrest as the Raptors couldn’t find any momentum, as all of it was being thrown into their net on fast-break dunks by Overland.
Turnovers continued to plague Olander’s squad and by the end of the third period, the game was blown open as the horned sounded shortly following a highlight reel worthy alley-oop that was flushed home by Robinson. The Raptors were held to a minuscule six points in the third. Going into the final quarter, Overland held a comfortable 48-26 lead.
Midway through the fourth, Fiasher his bench and as they were set to check in, De’Ron Davis made sure they knew to keep their foot on the gas pedal as he demanded his team keep up the intensity.
“That’s what changed. Him, Jervae, and Reggie, they have been very, very, vocal for the last week," Fisher said. "They’re coming to me asking to run things ‘we need to do this, we need to do that.’ Now we’re having basketball conversations and they’re wanting to do things they see on the floor.”
When Davis was asked about it, he stated that in order to reach his potential, he must improve on his vocal leadership.
“I’m trying to be an overall player and I feel like from a high school standpoint, I could always get better," he said. "My game is there, but it’s time for me to work on the other parts of my game and that’s being a leader"