Posted On: 12/21/18 2:17 PM

Desert Ridge defeated Seton Catholic, 53-49, in a back-and-forth battle in the first round of the Black Hawk Holiday Basketball Invite on Thursday.

Seton Catholic took an early lead, went down big in the second quarter and tied the game late. The Jaguars hit a step-back three with under a minute remaining in the game, and held on for the close victory.

Here are five key questions from the game, though a small sample-size:

What’s Desert Ridge’s biggest strength?

The Jaguars do not have one dominant scorer, so they rely heavily on moving the ball and getting half-court shots off well-designed plays. All five players on the floor can drive, finish and kick out to open guys. The tallest two starters, Marcus Windham and Caleb Alonso, both can dribble and make plays from the perimeter, as well as take turns defending opposing centers.

What’s Seton Catholic’s strength?

The Sentinels are extremely senior-heavy, with four in the starting lineup, and five of their top-six. So, this means the guys have all had a chance to play with each other for years. 4A is stacked this year with quality teams, and they are right up there. Carson Mittun and Jackson Lee are the top-scorers, both able to drive to the rim and hit perimeter shots from the guard spots. Neither of them shot very well in this game, though, and that will likely improve as the season continues.

What’s going to be key for Desert Ridge moving forward?

The Jaguars do not have the same size as a lot of the team’s they will face down the road in 6A. They even were smaller than their 4A opponent in this game. When they face big teams like Mountain Pointe later in the year, they will have a more difficult time finishing and defending the basket. Thus, shots from the perimeter could dictate their wins and losses. Players like Joe Kelsey, who hit the dagger-three and a free-throw to ice the game, will be relied on to knock down shots from the outside for a lot of the scoring, and the emphasis should be defending those shots from opponents.

What do the Sentinels need to improve on?

Carson Mittun can do everything on the court. He leads the team in rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. But, he got double-teamed a decent amount in this game and had a tough time getting to the rim. When this is the case, other guys need to step up. Center Patrick Kossler had some success scoring at the rim, so maybe they should dump it into him to make plays a little more.

Who’s going to step up for the Jaguars in crunch time?

Though Kelsey hit the game-winning shot, I’m honestly not sure whether he’s the team leader or not. It appeared Desert Ridge still needs to find its voice, and communicate on the floor. Along with Windham, expect co-captain Buck Eagleburger to make a big contribution as the only other senior, both with his play and voice.