Xzavaier Adams could start for any other Class 3A team. Kendall Reed could make the same claim.
But when Collegiate boys coach Mitch Fiegel asked if both would come off the bench for Collegiate, neither ever asked why. The banners and rings do the answering for Fiegel, who has won five state championships.
The Spartans, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, are defending and disrupting like they did when they won their last championship in 2010.
Collegiate improved to 6-0, dismantling Wellington in a 69-45 victory at home on Tuesday evening. Fiegel saw the work of a team capable of joining its championship predecessors.
“When you get guys toward that selfless side, that’s when basketball becomes beautiful,” Fiegel said. “Tonight we saw glimpses. Now we want to get some bigger glimpses of that and keep trying to make those glimpses bigger and bigger. That’s the route to special.”
Collegiate scored three seconds into the game and never relented, using Fiegel’s patented 5-in, 5-out substitution pattern to wear down Wellington.
When the Crusaders did break the pressure, they did so with smart passes and finished with 11 assists on 17 baskets. Trevor Nance was once again special, compiling 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
But when Collegiate brought in its second unit, the sustained energy was too much to handle. The Spartans bench would go on to finish with 43 of the 69 points, 23 of the 34 rebounds, and nine of the 14 assists.
“It’s really exciting to be able to bring in another group that’s ready to go with equal talent and the same energy,” starter Cameron Christian said. “I think it actually scares the other team.”
Wellington was competitive through 10 minutes, but Adams and Reed, off the bench, were daggers in the second quarter. Adams (nine points, five assists, four steals) was a hound defensively, sniffing out pass after pass for steals. Reed drilled four three-pointers and finished with 12 points.
Collegiate led 36-20 at halftime and pushed its lead to as many as 29 in the fourth quarter. Christian led the team with 14 points, while Jacob Newlin added 12 points and Cooper Root grabbed 10 rebounds off the bench.
Its defense, which scrambles and gambles at 2-minute bursts at a time, held Wellington scoreless on two-thirds of its possessions and forced 20 turnovers in all.
“Everybody has bought in,” Adams said. “Everybody knows their role and everybody wants to get to that championship caliber. We want to be special.”
Special doesn’t have to include individual greatness.
“We know this is what it’s going to take to get us to that next step,” Christian said. “We’re going to have to get over ourselves and play as a team and as a unit and not have our own personal agendas.”
WELLINGTON: Pettegrew 2, Reichenberger 1, Nance 17, Snipes 2, Phelps 9, King 8, Gilmore 6.
COLLEGIATE: Christian 14, Copher 2, Waddell 8, J. Larsen 0, McNerney 2, Adams 9, Chugg 8, Trebilcock 0, Reed 12, Murphy 0, P. Larsen 0, Root 2, Newlin 12.