New-look Rebels searching for their identity early on

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A youthful Columbine team is off to an 0-2 start to the 2013-14 campaign

By Michael Hicks

Time just may be the Columbine Rebels’ best friend this season. Clay Thielking’s boys basketball team will need it to get its feet underneath itself after graduating six seniors, including five starters, from last year’s 18-6 squad.
“We’ve got a lot of new faces, a lot of new faces,” Thielking said. “A lot of these guys haven’t played any minutes or worn a varsity uniform, and now they’re playing the likes of Regis and Grandview. I’ve been proud of them. We’re still making mistakes obviously, but we’re moving in the right direction. The kids are coachable and improving. We’re taking some lumps right now, but we’ll be OK.”
One of those lumps was Columbine’s 67-54 home-opening loss to Grandview on Dec. 5. Keanu Flores and Devon Brown scored 16 points each for the Wolves, who led throughout with the exception of an early 5-4 deficit in the first quarter. KyRon Allen added 11 first-half points for Grandview (2-0).
“We got loose with the ball. Turnovers hurt us. (Grandview) did a good job of converting turnovers into layups. I don’t think they missed a free throw all night,” Thielking said.
The Wolves were almost perfect from the charity stripe, making 12 of 14.
Columbine trailed 41-22 at halftime on the heels of a 14-3 second-quarter closing run by the Wolves.
“It’s tough to dig yourself out of a hole like that against a team like Grandview,” Thielking said.
But Columbine (0-2) certainly tried. A 9-3 run early in the third quarter, sparked by five points from Keaton Matthies, pulled the deficit within 46-34 with 5 minutes left in the period.
“We came out a little soft,” said Matthies, who finished with a game-high 23 points, including 18 in the second half. “Coach just said to come out and dig out of the hole. He said to come out and try to get it down to at least 10 going into the fourth quarter.”
That’s what the Rebels did. An 8-0 run to close the third quarter, highlighted by one of five Matthies’ 3-pointers, put Columbine down 52-42 with eight minutes remaining. The Rebels got to within nine points early in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get any closer.
Antonio Chavez finished with 13 points, and Tucker Holden had 12 for the Rebels.
Columbine played for a second straight game without 6-foot-8 starting center Brandon Wilson, who was serving a two-game suspension for violating a team rule.

Contact Michael Hicks at sports@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.