The game got easier for Seth Fuqua as a junior on The Vanguard School boys’ basketball team.
The 5-foot-11 guard started the season bigger, stronger, faster and better than he’s ever been. Beyond that, he got some help from reinforcements, which prevented teams from throwing junk defenses at the Coursers’ top scoring threat.
In the past, Fuqua said he dealt with box-and-ones or other uncommon defenses before second and third scoring options kept opponents more honest this year.
“This year, not as much as most because we have those other threats on the floor as well,” Fuqua said, “but they’re always trying to do stuff to try and stop us.”
Fuqua rode that increased freedom to averages of 23.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists and two steals to earn Gazette Preps Class 3A-1A Boys Basketball Peak Performer of the Year.
“He’s very hard to defend. You can’t take away just one thing from him,” Vanguard coach Joe Wetters said. “He shoots, he drives and he passes. I think just the instinct of ‘I’m going to force you to do what I want you to’ that’s what he does to defenses.”
The junior scored in double figures in each of the Coursers’ 24 games. His lowest scoring output was a 13-point game against Trinidad on Feb. 13, but the 85-43 final score may have kept Fuqua in check more than the opponents.
His scoring average was a slight drop from his sophomore year, but the Coursers’ record improved from 15-8 to 21-3, including an unbeaten run through league play and a postseason game at home.
“We had a great season and we learned a lot, but next year, is really when we’re going to push hard for that state championship,” Fuqua said.
The versatile guard made a statement to open the season with 35 points, including seven 3-pointers, against Canon City. He followed with 38 with five 3-pointers against Byers in the Coursers’ second game.
“For his size, a lot of people think he’s just a 3-point shooter,” Wetters said.
“He’s so fast with the ball in his hands that it surprises people. Him getting the ball to the rim is his best asset.”
Fuqua’s favorite game of his junior season came against Tri-Peaks League foe Colorado Springs Christian School when he had 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. It was the Coursers’ first win over the Lions since Fuqua started his high school career.
“It really showed all of us clicking and coming together,” he said.
The strong junior season showed Fuqua just how close the Coursers are to being among 3A’s best.
“Realizing that we’re really there and we can be at the top if we keep working hard, that’s really what I learned, what I took out of this year,” Fuqua said.
He’ll take that lesson into offseason workouts. He chalked his most successful prep season to date to a summer with little wasted time. The plan remains the same going into his senior year.
“We start right away,” Fuqua said. “From then on all the way to the season, we’re just going to do the same thing - just keep getting bigger, keep getting stronger, keep just pushing.”