Posted On: 12/2/16 3:21 PM
Denver East vs. Rocky Mountain: The 10 best
Rocky Mountain came prepared against the No. 5 team in our preseason 5A rankings on Wednesday. The Lobos stayed close for awhile, only trailing 10-7 after the first and 24-17 at halftime before gaining a 30-29 advantage early in the third. That grit will serve them well in the Front Range League. Eventually the Angels, who in the absence of prominent transfers like Daylen Kountz and Jamison Washington struggled to score early, found their footing in outscoring Rocky Mountain 39-16 down the stretch on their way to a 68-46 triumph. Denver East will face Vista Ridge on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the Gojos Classic at Fossil Ridge. The Lobos take on Denver South at 3:30 in consolation.
MVP: Kwane Marble (Denver East)
Hello, Kwane Marble. The guard started varsity his first game at Denver East as a freshman last year, a rarity for the Angels and a clue to what coach Rudy Carey thought of his talent. On Wednesday, East needed scoring punch and Marble provided it with a fantastic 28-point performance. Marble was efficient (8 of 12 from field, 2 of 4 from three, 10 of 12 from line), smooth, and at times flashy with a few tremendous moves to gain separation from the defense. He performed like one of the top sophomores in Colorado and swooshed both of his three-pointers.
Play of the game: Assane Diouf (Denver East)
Another sophomore, Diouf ran through the lane, received a pass, and proceeded to bring the house down. The powerful two-handed mash in the first quarter also drew a blocking call on Rocky Mountain and Diouf converted the traditional three-point play. The recent Georgia Tech commit is listed at 7-1 and weighs around 240 pounds. He had nine points and is an excellent rim-protector who is improving rapidly as he gets more used to his body.
Best offensive performance: Marble
The 6-2 sophomore was the obvious choice here as the only player from either team to score more than 11 points. Marble and Kountz, once he appears in an East jersey for the first time in January, will be a terrific tandem on the wings. Marble was equally tough to defend on drives and pull-ups against the Lobos.
Best defensive performance: Joe Abiakam (Denver East)
Abiakam was a thief in the absolute best way in this one. The senior guard was a standout guarding on and off the ball, using instincts and quickness to tally five steals. For a team that had 11 steals in the game, Marble also had three, Denver East’s pressure was devastating at times as Rocky Mountain finished with 19 turnovers. Abiakam led the way defensively.
Best guy off the bench: Kaelan Potts (Denver East)
In his first varsity game, the lefty guard made some crucial plays. He was savvy in his decision-making for when to drive or let it launch. Potts was two of two from three and had 10 points. The 5-10 junior has pretty good skills.
Best intangibles: Freddie Haberecht (Rocky Mountain)
The Lobos have some height with 6-7 Haberecht, 6-6 Spencer Lovell and 6-5 Noah Lovell. Haberecht left everything on the floor. He fouled out late, but before doing so made a number of hustle plays, scored seven points, grabbed a pair of rebounds, tallied a block, and had two deflections. More than anything, going against 7-1 Diouf and 6-9 Alex May was no easy task, but Haberecht played with a ton of effort.
Best under-the-radar performance: Joe Elliott (Rocky Mountain)
Elliott was a major reason why the Lobos were able to stay in this game for much of it. He is a competent catch-and-shoot guy, a 5-10 junior guard who went 3 of 6 from beyond the arc and scored 11 points. Elliott will play a huge role for a team looking to move up in the Front Range pecking order.
Best underclassmen for Rocky Mountain: Joseph Urynowicz
While Marble and Diouf were both outstanding underclassmen in this game, we’ll give a little love to Urynowicz here. He struggled a touch shooting the ball, going 2 of 7, but he did garner seven points and was tough on the glass with seven rebounds, including three on offense. The 6-3 swingman averaged nine points as a freshman and is a capable two-way player.
Best story to watch moving forward for Denver East: How scary could they be in March?
The answer is, extremely scary. They have probably the biggest team in the state, a ton of depth and athleticism, and a great group of backcourt studs. There are some teams in 5A with huge potential this season and Denver East is certainly one of them.
Best story to watch moving forward for Rocky Mountain: Can the Lobos finish with their first winning record and top five finish in the Front Range since 2011-12?
After going 15-9 that season, Rocky Mountain won either five or six games the following three seasons. Last year marked an upswing with an 11-13 record. With guards like Xavier Johnson, Tyler Hyland, Urynowicz, and Joe Elliott, to go with great size for the league, the Lobos are in position to be a competitive team up north.