Rampart basketball has big goals for 2017 - and there's an equally big guy leading the charge for the Rams.
Jackson Ehrlin, a 6-foot-8, 210-pound senior, has been a force on both ends of the court. He enjoys scoring, grabbing rebounds and blocking shots as much as he likes a good hip hop album, and Ehrlin added to his greatest hits collection with three strong games over the weekend.
He had 17 points and seven rebounds in a 70-54 win over CSCS on Friday. His team then played twice Saturday, as Ehrlin tallied 23 points and six rebounds in a 74-55 win over Fruita Monument, and followed that with 15 points, nine rebounds and six blocks in a 69-65 overtime win over Pueblo West.
"It brought me back to the old AAU days, when you were at a tournament and had 4-5 games in a weekend," Ehrlin said of three games in 48 hours. "Pueblo West would be a top team in our league, and they're one of the best 4A teams in the state, so winning a game like that can propel us."
The 5A Rams rallied from a seven-point deficit entering the fourth quarter against Pueblo West (8-1) to finish 3-0 at the Rampart Tournament and improve to 7-3 in nonconference play.
The toughness the team showed, led by Ehrlin, was something Rampart coach J'on St. Clair was happy with.
"The kids kept battling and took some punches, but once we got the lead in overtime, we kept it," St. Clair said. "I'm really excited about the way Jackson is shooting the ball. For him to be shooting as well as he is from outside is a threat that most people aren't ready for."
Ehrlin, who is a hip hop/rap music aficionado, is averaging 18.4 points and 8.4 rebounds.
Off the court, he's listening to the likes of J. Cole and Drake. On the court, he's making life miserable for opposing players. He credits his intense desire to win for making him the player he has become.
"I've never met anyone more competitive than me - I wish I would so I could see how crazy that person is," Ehrlin said with a laugh. "I can't stand losing, especially when you lose and know you should've won - that kills me. I expect to win, and make sure my teammates know the deal."
St. Clair echoed those sentiments, saying Ehrlin holds both himself and his teammates to a high standard. That attitude is what makes Rampart one of the favorites to win the 5A Metro title and make a serious run in the playoffs.
"They follow his example, and it's great to have a kid like that lead your team," St. Clair said. "I've coached some places where the best player isn't the hardest-working player, but that's not the case with Jackson. It always makes it easier when you have someone who is 'that guy' on the team."
The Rams enter conference play with just three losses, which came by a total of 10 points.
Ehrlin, who will play for Division 2 Black Hills State (Spearfish, S.D.) next year, says his team is battle-tested.
"If we keep playing the way we're playing, and play the entire game - like we did against Pueblo West - we can go to state," he said.