Warriors hoops powers over Mullen

Posted 2/17/09

Scott Kaniewski The Arapahoe High School boys basketball team put its season in a nutshell in one game. The Warriors showed their best and worst in a …

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Warriors hoops powers over Mullen


Scott Kaniewski

The Arapahoe High School boys basketball team put its season in a nutshell in one game.

The Warriors showed their best and worst in a 55-42 victory over Mullen High on Feb. 13.

The Warriors turned the ball over six times in the first quarter and only ended up with an 8-5 lead because Javon Moore hit a 3-pointer from just inside the half-court line at the buzzer.

But in the fourth, the Warriors turned the ball over just twice on their way to a 25-point quarter keyed by Parker Semin’s eight points. He finished the game with 10.

Tim Billingsley led the Warriors with a game-high 18 points and four Warriors each grabbed four rebounds.

“A win’s a win,” Billingsley said. “It was sloppy, but we’ll practice [Saturday] and Monday and get better for next week.”

With the Division 5A playoff tournament just over a week away, the Warriors [7-5 Centennial League, 13-8 overall] hope to use the victory over Mullen as a boost.

“It was sloppy, but we did what it takes down the stretch,” said senior Drew Babb, who finished with 7 points and 4 rebounds. “The second half [of league play] when we’ve played everybody we’ve been playing a lot better.”

Babb, Jed Knafelc and Kevin Wallace, Arapahoe’s three seniors on the team, were honored before the victory for their final regular season home game. Wallace had to watch from the bench with his right arm in a sling, the result of a broken elbow suffered against Smoky Hill High on Jan. 30. Wallace said he hopes to return to the court depending on how deep a run the Warriors can make.

Knafelc played a key role in the win over Mullen [5-7, 8-12], scoring eight consecutive points in the second quarter to turn a 10-8 lead into an 18-8 lead.

“It felt good to go off on a good note,” Knafelc said. “On a personal level, coming off that court was a little bit emotional.”

Arapahoe coach Dan Snyder said the Warriors have had solid games and sloppy ones throughout the season.

“We turned the ball over way too much,” Snyder said. “But it’s a win, and we’re happy to bounce back [after a loss to Eaglecrest]. We struggle a little bit with the balance of being aggressive and taking care of the ball. We’ve been a very inconsistent team. It’s the sign of an inexperienced team.”

But when the Warriors do play well, as they did in the second half, they could pose problems for playoff opponents.

“If I’m another team, I don’t think we’re a great matchup for the playoffs,” Snyder said. “Because we are a team that can really play well.”

Billingsley, a transfer from Chaparral High School, has become Arapahoe’s main scoring threat from outside. After sitting out the first 11 games because of the transfer, the junior is averaging 13.7 points. Against Mullen he missed his first four 3-point attempts, but managed to get to the free throw line and capitalize there. He warmed up in the second half.

“People were coming up to me at halftime and saying keep playing your game, keep shooting,” Billingsley said. “I knew they had confidence in me, so I kept going and finally shots dropped.”

Billingsley has had to adjust to the Warriors offense, and the Warriors offense has had to adjust to Billingsley, something that’s taken a bit longer than coach Snyder expected.

“We’ve had to drastically get him assimilated in with the rest of the guys,” Snyder said. “It’s had more of an impact than I thought it would. They will stand and watch [Billingsley] as opposed to continuing to move within the framework of our offense.”

Billingsley said the adjustment has taken shape the second half of league play.

“Coming in, I didn’t know really how to take on my role,” he said. “After we figured out what was working well … then we figured out what I was supposed to be doing.”

With the Warriors’ zone defense, playoff opponents will have a tough time scoring. Arapahoe coaxed the Mustangs into 17 turnovers and held them to 15-of-45 shooting (33 percent). If the Warriors can continue to get scoring from Billingsley and 6-foot-5 sophomore surprise Semin, who leads the team in points and rebounds, a deep run through the postseason is a possibility.

“For being a sophomore, Parker’s a tough kid,” Knafelc said. “Sometimes we have more confidence in him than he does. We’ve got guys that can play. We believe we have the potential to make a run if we can put it together. I think we can do that.”

With only three seniors on the team, the Warriors have grown up quickly.

“We’re a really young team so throughout the year everyone’s learned a lot,” Babb said. “So coming up to playoffs, hopefully we’ll be playing our best basketball.”


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