David Ramsey: LaRose and Falcon basketball could make noise in 4A

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Photo - Falcon Falcons senior Brendan LaRose (34) drives to the net against Pueblo West Colts senior Jeremy Cody (13) in the third quarter. The Falcons hosted the Colts in boys' basketball on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 at Falcon High School. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing
Falcon Falcons senior Brendan LaRose (34) drives to the net against Pueblo West Colts senior Jeremy Cody (13) in the third quarter. The Falcons hosted the Colts in boys' basketball on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 at Falcon High School. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing

Brendan LaRose is a 6-foot-9 center who can sink 3-pointers and rise high above the rim, always a rare combination, but his high school days have been defined by constant movement.

He began at Falcon, transferred to Rampart and then, because of family issues, transferred back to Falcon.

He’s finally settled as a senior leading Falcon’s promising but still developing team.  LaRose and Falcon lost Tuesday night, 72-60, to an aggressive, talented Pueblo South team that traveled to the state semis last season.

For a half, though, the Falcons and LaRose looked dangerous.

Pueblo South’s Marcell Barbee lives in the lane. It’s where he’s most comfortable. It’s where he collects his points. (Barbee caught eight passes for 199 yards in Pueblo South’s win over Pine Creek in the 4A football final.)

In the second quarter, Barbee challenged LaRose, who was ready. LaRose blocked a point-blank Barbee shot. Barbee tried again, and LaRose again blocked the shot. Barbee tried one last time from 3-feet, and missed the rim by 2 feet.

A minute later, Barbee rose above the rim for a dunk, and LaRose met him there, cleanly blocking the shot.

Refs called LaRose for a foul anyway.

After the dunk attempt, Barbee laughed as he stood at the free-throw line, talking with LaRose.

“I was trying to Fruita Monument you,” Barbee said, referring to an emphatic dunk LaRose delivered against Fruita Monument.

For a few minutes, Falcon looked ready to deliver a mild upset. A 3-pointer by Reece Warren, who finished with 14 points, pushed Falcon to a 37-33 halftime lead.

But Pueblo South, and Barbee, had a plan for the second half: Get LaRose in foul trouble. The plan worked. Barbee, on his way to 30 points, scored 14 points in the third quarter, including a dunk over LaRose. The Falcons got swept away by a 25-8 run.

“That man is a legit shot blocker,” Barbee said of LaRose. “He can be a legit player on the next level. He can make it tough in there.”

After his basketball wandering, LaRose is comfortable at Falcon. He says players have made him feel at home, and he appreciates how coach Mark Watley welcomed him back to the program.

Watley laughed.

 “Who wouldn’t want a 6-9 guy on their team who can play like that,” Watley said of LaRose, who averages 15 points and 10 rebounds a game. “It doesn’t take a great coach to realize that.”

Falcon has work to do. The team lacks depth and struggles with poise. When Pueblo South fully unleashed its press in the third quarter, the Falcons collapsed.

But a high school team can grow quickly. LaRose is finally settled in Falcon, where he polices the lane and soars to dunks. He’s nowhere near his potential.