Posted On: 01/24/18 7:46 PM
Denver East toppled Eaglecrest in a battle of nonconference greats. For years, Denver East has been one of the favorites to win the Denver Prep League and Eaglecrest is always at the top of the Centennial league so this was surely a game to get out to. Here’s what happened.
Daylen Kountz & Kwane Marble
These two were the keys to victory for East on both ends of the floor. They’re one of the top duos in the state as they feed off of each other’s energy. As incredible as Daylen is on offense, one of the underappreciated themes this year for the Angels is the defense of Kwane. The 6’3 wing is a tenacious defender and is tasked with guarding the best player on the opposing team each night while also finding his own on offense. He was tasked as the primary defender on Eaglecrest’ best player Branden Bunn for most of the game. Marble got into foul trouble early, but was able to turn it around and make key plays late in the game that helped secure the victory. He scores 19 second half points and went 8-of-10 from the charity stripe but also knocked down multiple 3-pointers to provide an additional contributor on offense. As for the CU commit, Kountz, he carried his team. He controlled the pace like most nights and was the leading scorer on the night as he poured in a game high 32 points. He picked apart the Raptor zone and finished at the rim showcasing why he’s the favorite as Mr.Basketball come year end. This duo was a bit too much for Eaglecrest and is why the Angels won the game.
Progression of Branden Bunn
“Instant offense” should be his nickname as he gets it done any and every way for the Raptors. He’s a microwave out there as when he heats up, its contagious to the surrounding players. He’s also showcasing how much he’s progressed from last year to this year and why he’s a go to player his Senior year. On the year, he hasn’t disappointed as he’s averaging 11.5 points and 3.4 rebounds. He brings a toughness to the team and it sparks plenty of runs. He started the game out with five straight points and had the Angels on their heels, but finished the game with four 3-pointers made and wore down the defense with his movement and ability to knock down open shots and also create on his own. He’s becoming a player that most teams have to game plan for and is watching his stock rise as one of the best offensive weapons in the state and one to watch going forward. He’s close to a breakout game where he lights a team up for 30.
Zone of Denver East
When you play Denver East just know, you’re going to have to game plan for multiple looks on the defensive end. They can man up with almost any team, but its their press and zone looks that open up the rest of their game. They used a high 3-2 zone that caused many problems for the Raptors and kept Eaglecrest out of their half court sets. By the time Eaglecrest finally settled down and figured out how to break the zone, it was too late, momentum had been lost. The Angels put their two scrappy players, Charles Young and Kaelan Potts, on top and forced the guards of Eaglecrest into turnovers which lead to the East run.
Fight of Eaglecrest
Eaglecrest has made it that they’re a team that no team can look over. They’ve lost by five or less against three teams in the Top-5 in Denver East, Rock Canyon and Chaparral and has pushed every team to limit while playing some of their best basketball of the season. They’ve also beat some of the top teams in Grandview, Smoky Hill and Cherry Creek so the Raptors have shown that they aren’t afraid of anybody and can play with the best of them. For a team that’s a year removed from a championship and having lost their best player in Colbey Ross and Coach Olander, many counted this team out, but new Head Coach Krapcha and company have earned the attention of the many and are just getting started. Eaglecrest uses a balance scoring attack with 6 players scoring at least 6 points per game with Brendan Bunn and Morgan Brown leading the pack with 11.2 and 10.7 points per game, this is still a solid unit.
As the season goes on and both teams get into league play it wont only be the stars that will need to step their game up, it will be the role players that’ll be key for both teams. Charles Young is going to have to be a player that helps sparks the offense in different ways. Rather it’s his ability to knock down an open jump shot or turn his defense into easy lay-up opportunities he’ll have to contribute in a variety of ways. Also if Ja’shawn Chisel can stay out of foul trouble and use his athleticism at the basket it will make East even more dangerous as a team throughout the year. As for Eaglecrest, its seniors Darius Houston and XaiV’ion Jackson that are players that tend to catch teams off guard. Jackson usually picks apart teams with his high basketball IQ and persistence on the defensive end. He’s a great on ball defender and uses his body to get in the lane and cause issues for the opposing defense. Darius serves as the spot up shooter for the Raptors and is shooting 48% from deep. His ability to knock down the open shot and put himself in situations to score with be crucial going forward.