Prep notebook: Harrison boys' basketball hoping for consistency with new hire

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Photo - A buzzer-beater shot from Lamar bounces wide off the backboard at the end of the third period at the University of Denver - Hamilton Gym on Friday, March 9, 2018. St. Mary's defeated Lamar 48-36 to advance to the State 3A Championship against Colorado Springs Christian School.

(Nadav Soroker, The Gazette)

A buzzer-beater shot from Lamar bounces wide off the backboard at the end of the third period at the University of Denver - Hamilton Gym on Friday, March 9, 2018. St. Mary's defeated Lamar 48-36 to advance to the State 3A Championship against Colorado Springs Christian School. (Nadav Soroker, The Gazette)

Harrison athletic director Dave Hogan hopes his latest coaching hire can bring some stability to his boys’ basketball program.

In a tweet last week, Hogan announced that he had promoted assistant coach Eric Kaiser to take over the program.

Kaiser was an assistant under former Panthers coach Jerry Austin in the mid-to-late 2000s and came back for the last two years under Orlando Sanchez, who stepped down after the 2017-18 campaign, per the AD.

“I feel like he’s the right guy to take the basketball team in the direction they need to go,” Hogan said. “No head coaching experience with basketball, but he has good depth of knowledge in basketball. He’s passionate about it, and he understands he’s in a kids’ business and he’s going to work hard to make the kids better on and off the floor. … He’s just a good-hearted guy.”

Kaiser, a PE teacher at Otero Elementary School, has also been an assistant at Sierra, Discovery Canyon and Mitchell. By phone Sunday, he said he believed this was the perfect time to move up to the head chair.

“I think my longevity of being an assistant coach, being in the district as a teacher, and (with) my heart and soul with Harrison, I was just waiting patiently until it was my time,” Kaiser said. “I have paid my dues and I was ready when time was ready for me.”

He’ll take over a Panthers team that went 9-15 last year and lost in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs. Hogan, among others, hopes Kaiser is a long-term answer for a program that hasn’t had a coach remain in the position for more than two seasons since Austin's final year in 2010.

“We’ve gone through a bunch of coaches in the last few years,” Hogan said. “We’re hoping he brings stability. With stability, I think comes a sense by people that the program is on solid ground.”

Cheyenne Mountain and Pine Creek put undefeated league records on the line in girls’ lacrosse

Pine Creek’s longtime coach Roger Wallace is a big proponent of doing what it takes to not allow the opposition to gain a competitive advantage. For years he’s gone as far as to not post his team’s stats on MaxPreps until the regular season is finished.

“We don’t want teams to have the opportunity to prepare against our team and try and shut down individual players,” he said.

Can't hide this fact: All the cards will be in play when Pine Creek (10-2, 5-0 Southern League) hosts Cheyenne Mountain (8-2, 4-0) in a battle of league unbeatens on Wednesday.

Both teams have been dominant inside the conference up to this point, with the Eagles outscoring the opposition 82-29 and the Indians 77-19.

“One of (our goals) was win conference and to do that we have to beat Pine Creek Wednesdayand Palmer Ridge on Friday,” Cheyenne Mountain coach Marc Luckett said. “I’m looking forward to a really good game.”

Valdez could end up leading Atlas Preparatory School into the postseason

The second-year girls’ soccer program that was just happy to win a few games is now in the postseason conversation.

Jesenia Valdez has 22 of her team’s 26 goals and Atlas Preparatory School is now 7-2.

The rising junior scored 12 times in the last three games as the Gryphons notched wins over Lamar, Rye and Trinidad over a 10-day span. Her 22 goals are tied for ninth in the state and second in Class 3A.

“Jesenia has played a critical role for us,” coach Teo Jackson said. “There’s times I feel like she can just get the ball and score it whenever she feels like it.”

With Valdez in the lead, Atlas --winners of just three games in its inaugural season a year ago -- has been one of the biggest surprise teams around town.

Jackson said at the beginning of the season he would have called Year 2 a success with a few wins while establishing a more competitive attitude among his players.

Now, though, his team is second in 3A Region 1 at 4-1 and is squarely in the postseason mix with three games left on its schedule.

“The girls want to talk about (playoffs), but I don’t want to talk about it,” Jackson said. “We didn’t even schedule a full (15 game) schedule. … But I told the them if we won a couple last week and won one or two more we can kind of start to talk about it. But I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”