A 15-10 Lincoln Lancers team may not seem like a threat to the Montrose boys basketball team (20-4), but the Denver-based school has quite the firepower.
Lincoln lays claim to one of the top prospects in Colorado in Tijani Bamba, a Washington State University recruit who averages a double-double (24.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game). He’s not the only one the Indians will hope to stop as the Lancers’ Ty Foster is coming in averaging 16.6 ppg.
“They’ve got kids who can play,” Montrose coach Ryan Voehringer said. “And they’ve got three to four role players that can play. They’re well-coached and a good team.”
The No. 9 Indians will know soon as they stack up as they’ll host the Lancers, ranked 25th, at 7 tonight in a Sweet 16 matchup.
Being able to stop Bamba and Foster will be a challenge, but the goal will be to try to limit them as best as possible while preventing the role players from going off, Voehringer said.
“It’s the other guys I’m worried about,” he said. “... We’re just going to slow everybody else down.”
It’s not like Montrose is a stranger to restricting other teams’ offense. The Indians defense limited opponents to around 45 ppg this season
“We’ve been a pretty good team defensively-wise,” Voehringer said. “If we’ve been playing as we have, we’ll give ourselves a chance to win.”
Montrose’s hope of advancing to the Great 8 will also mean avenging last year’s state playoff loss to Lincoln.
“They’re a tough team to beat,” said Montrose guard Sean Alex. “We’ve seen film on them. And we have a coach who watches film nonstop and he knows everything they’re doing so I think we will be prepared.”
Alex added he and his teammates are using the loss a season ago as motivation.
“I don’t think we played that well but they were really good last year,” he said.
Montrose has its share fair of athletes that Lincoln will hope to contain.
Sophomore Luke Hutto, who’s scoring over 14 a game, is coming off a 25-point effort in the team’s last win on Saturday over Evergreen. Meanwhile, Alex is second on the team in scoring with 12.3 ppg.
Voehringer expects Lincoln to try to shut down Hutto which will mean the three to four of the other starters will have to score at least 10 points to give Montrose a chance at victory.
The Indians aren’t new to this kind of gameplan. The Grand Junction Central Warriors had the same idea a few weeks ago and Montrose pulled out a 26-point win.
In that contest, Alex had 17 points while Jordan Jennings matched a season-high 15, Trey Schwerdtfeger finished with 10 and Trey Reese added eight.
“Other guys have to step up and help Luke,” Voehringer said. “They’re going to key up on Luke just like we’re going to key up on their two main guys.”
Voehringer said the Indians do have home-field advantage in the rematch because the Lancers aren’t used to five-hour bus rides and playing in Montrose.
“It’s going to be dragged out fight,” Voehringer said. “We’ll be ready and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”