COLORADO SPRINGS — When Discovery Canyon boys basketball hosted Cheyenne Mountain earlier in the season, the Thunder led with three minutes to go. But a win was not to be. Cheyenne Mountain did what they had done all year and found a way to come away with a win.
Heading into Wednesday's showdown against the No. 2-ranked team in Class 4A, Thunder coach Paul Campbell challenged his boys to play 32 minutes instead of 29.
That challenge was accepted. The Thunder (10-7 overall, 5-4 Pikes Peak Athletic Conference) came away with a 79-67 win, handing Cheyenne Mountain its first loss of the season.
Among the many things that had to go right for Campbell's team, slowing down Cheyenne Mountain star Javonte Johnson was at the top of the list.
"He's the best player in the state in my opinion," Campbell said. "I remember coaching against him the last three years and he's grown into a full man."
Cheyenne (17-1, 8-1) got in trouble in the first half when Johnson picked up his fourth foul of the game. Now forced to the bench, Johnson had to watch as the Thunder battled for second chance points and built a 43-30 halftime lead.
Johnson returned to the floor and scored 26 points on the night, but Cheyenne Mountain couldn't battle all the way back.
The win is a big boost for the Thunder who was dealt a big blow early in the year with the loss of Daryn Whisman.
"He went down in the first quarter of the first game," Campbell said. "Trent Pasvogel and Ethan Smith, both sophomores, are stepping up and trying to fill that hole."
And they're doing an admirable job. Smith averaged 11.2 points per game heading into Wednesday and Pasvogel adds 8.2.
Cheyenne Mountain had cut the game to six points in the fourth quarter but a Pasvogel bucket stopped the momentum. He scored eight crucial points in the fourth quarter to help the Thunder hang on and come away with the win, a win that mentally will do a lot for the team in the final two weeks of the season.
"Confidence," Pasvogel said. "This gives us so much confidence and makes us want to go out and player harder and keep building momentum."