CENTENNIAL — Mentally, it's tough to forget giving a 20-point lead to a league rival. But Eaglecrest had to figure out a way to do that.
It took 22 points from Colbey Ross a surge from Ikenna Ozor to start the second half, but the Raptors were able to come away with a 56-43 win over Grandview, avenging a loss in which they gave up a 36-16 lead.
"Of course it was on everyone's mind," Ross said. "We just came out and played hard. That was the main key."
But simply playing hard doesn't always generate the ideal results. The Raptors (17-3 overall, 10-1 Centennial League) struggled to find an offensive rhythm early and ended the first quarter in a 12-10 deficit.
It wasn't an ideal feeling for coach John Olander, who routinely sees his team start a little better each game.
"We're a fast starting team and I feel better when we start fast," Olander said. "In the back of my mind, I knew if we could get a lead again and handle the situation better we could increase the lead. But I told our guys before the game, it was going to be close."
Coming out of the first eight minutes, the Wolves (18-2, 9-2) were knocking down outside shots thanks to Gunner Gentry and Ben Boone.
But as the game went on, there was a lack of scoring from where Grandview usually likes to see it. Gaige and Dayne Prim combined for eight points on the night, leaving the Wolves a little flustered offensively.
"Scoring-wise we didn't get much from either brother," Grandview coach Michael Rogers said. "That kind of threw us off a little bit. Usually they're good for 15 to 20 at least."
The Raptors were able to gain a two-point edge at halftime, even if it took a little more scrap than Olander wanted. But Ozor ignited Eaglecrest to start the second half.
He sank a tip-in for his first basket of the game and on the ensuing possession, he drove to the basket and made his shot while drawing the foul. Five of his nine points in the game came on those two possessions.
"In the first half, a lot of the shots that I can usually make just weren't going in," Ozor said. "That was kind of tough, but in the second half, a huge goal was to push it and really run the court."
And that's where the difference in the game came.
Once the Raptors were able to push the pace and convert on the shots that they're used to converting on, they proved to be too much trouble for the Wolves.
Back-to-back lay-ins from Ross gave Eaglecrest a 45-33 lead in the fourth quarter, and the crowd began thinning out at that point.
"(Coach wanted us) to set those screens and roll," Ozor said. "They're not as fast as a team as we are."
But Grandview is far from a bad team and they weren't the CHSAANow.com No. 5-ranked team for nothing. They also sit at No. 2 in the Class 5A RPI, so a win over this team is impressive by any means. And Olander even admitted that he'd happily take a one-point win.
But now Rogers has to re-evaluate the outcome and figure out what he needs to get his boys to do in order to produce the winning result from the first go-around between the two rivals.
"We can take something from this," he said. "We'll watch film tomorrow and see what we did right and see where we were disciplined and undisciplined."