Cheyenne Mountain wins 1st boys' playoff game since 2014

0
Photo - Cheyenne Mountain guard Ben Jepson goes in for a lay up during the Cheyenne Mountain and Harrison boys basketball game at Cheyenne Mountain on Wednesday, February 22, 2017. Photo by Stacie Scott, The Gazette
Cheyenne Mountain guard Ben Jepson goes in for a lay up during the Cheyenne Mountain and Harrison boys basketball game at Cheyenne Mountain on Wednesday, February 22, 2017. Photo by Stacie Scott, The Gazette

Cheyenne Mountain junior Luke Martin couldn't remember the last time the Indians had won a playoff game before Wednesday's 65-41 win over Harrison.

He knew teammate Will Louis - something of a stats freak - would, though.

"Of course I remember, I was in seventh grade," the sophomore Louis said. "They went 21-6. They made the final four."

All true.

Now they're hoping to keep a memorable season going of their own.

Martin had 17 rebounds to go with nine points and nine blocks, and Louis had a game-high 20 points as the 30th-ranked Indians rolled over the visiting No. 35 Panthers for their first playoff win since 2014.

In that run three years ago, Ghassan Nehme was undoubtedly the leader on the floor. The showman knew how to excite a crowd with his no-look assists, deep-range 3s and buzzer-beating game-winners.

This year, the Indians (9-15) look to have another leader in Martin, the 6-foot-7 post player who stuffed the speedy Panthers (12-12) on Wednesday.

"It was kind of an adjustment period for him at the beginning of the year with everyone keying on him," Cheyenne Mountain coach Elgin Fitzgerald said. "Now he's really taken over that leadership role. He's become more of a leader for us and a guy everyone looks up to. And he makes plays for us."

Orlando Westbrook scored 14 to lead Harrison, which was in the postseason for the first time since the 2011-12 season. Quinzel Harding and Enrique Johnson added 10 points apiece.

The Panthers were held to a season-low 41 points.

"I think the playoff atmosphere and stuff like that, the winning, it may have caught up with them," said Harrison coach Orlando Sanchez, the program's fourth coach in four years. "We were playing above our heads a lot of times (this season)."

The Panthers had trouble getting through the Indians' zone and past Martin in the paint throughout the night. They settled for jump shots - which fell at an excruciatingly low rate - while the Indians seemed to move the ball freely and convert easy looks.

Louis scored 13 and Martin asserted his will on the boards as the Indians jumped out to a 25-17 lead by half. After the break, both of them added acrobatic three-point gems at the rim as the lead grew.

Ryan Wallis added 15 points for the Indians, who will travel to No. 3 D'Evelyn for the second round on Saturday.

"It feels pretty good," Martin said afterward. "It's my first time winning a playoff game and I feel we can go a little bit farther than this."

Harding cut Cheyenne Mountain's lead to 12-8 thanks to an off-balance jumper at the first-quarter buzzer. But the four-year varsity player couldn't get much else going and was held scoreless in the second half of his last game with Harrison.

He took the playoff loss with a silver lining afterward.

"For us seniors to go through four coaches and get to where we want," he said, "that's a big accomplishment."