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Lakewood girls basketball coach Chris Poisson is once again guiding another state-contending team as the Tigers move toward a fourth consecutive 20-win season.Teams like Highlands Ranch, Grandview, Broomfield, ThunderRidge, George Washington and Pine Creek are a few of those schools that are considered challengers when the state playoffs roll around, but Lakewood should be included among those teams.Lakewood (16-3) is averaging 63.6 points, 28.1 rebounds, 16.6 assists, 16.5 steals and 5.9 blocks per game, which are all above the per-game national averages compiled by MaxPreps.Poisson has height on his team in 6-foot-3 sophomore twins Camilla and Kira Emsbo plus three other players who are 6 feet tall, including senior captain and all-around athlete Mckenna Bishop.And the Tigers have a terrific scorer in 5-7 senior guard Mackenzie Forrest, who became the school’s all-time leading scorer earlier this season. Senior Marisela Perez keeps every player active with her assists and steals.“Mackenzie is our consistent scorer, and she is playing her best basketball right now,” said Poisson. “The Emsbo twins are gaining in skill and confidence. McKenna Bishop is our athlete, and we have good shooters in Anissa Barela, Maddie Miller and Maddie Couglin. We can have a real balanced attack in terms of scoring.”Lakewood was 5-3 early in the season, losing to IMG Academy of Bradenton, Florida, and Vista Murieta (California) in the La Jolla County Day Tournament, and then to Grandview in the Grandview Invitational.“Our team is improving, and we are much better than we were in December,” confessed Poisson. “Our players are comfortable in their roles now, and with our depth we can create matchups in our favor.”Proud to be an AmericanIt was gratifying to watch the Ponderosa wrestling team while the national anthem was played prior to the Mustangs’ Continental League match against Chaparral on Feb. 4.Almost all high school athletes and students politely stand, and most hold a hand over their heart, while the anthem is played.Ponderosa 220-pounder Cohlton Shultz and a couple of his teammates did a little more. They were actually singing along with “The Star-Spangled Banner.”State swimming championships setThe first two winter sports state championship events will be held Feb. 12 and 13.Class 4A swimmers will compete in state girls swimming championships at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center in Thornton.Swimming preliminaries begin at 4 p.m. on Feb. 12. Diving prelims are set for 9 a.m. Feb. 13 with swim and dive finals scheduled to start at 2 p.m.The 5A state swimming championships will be held at the same time on the same days at the Edora Pool Ice Center (EPIC) in Fort Collins.Highlands Ranch rolls alongIf you want to talk about league dominance, look at what Highlands Ranch is doing this season in the Continental League.In seven league victories, the Falcons, top-ranked in the CHSAANow.com poll, have a winning margin of 40.4 points a game.The closest call Highlands Ranch has encountered was a 46-37 win over ThunderRidge on Jan. 22, when the Grizzlies were ranked second.Highlands Ranch is 19-1 with its only loss a 76-60 setback to Bellevue, Washington, on Dec. 19 in the Nike Tournament of Champions.Bellevue guard Anna Wilson, sister of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell, was the most valuable player for Bellevue in one of the top divisions of the Nike tourney; Bellevue is unbeaten and is Washington’s top-ranked team.Gilbreath eyes Gophers’ starting spotSophomore Lucas Gilbreath, a 6-foot-1, 208-pound lefthander, is vying to be one of the University of Minnesota’s starting pitchers as the Gophers open the college baseball season Feb. 19 in Arizona against the University of Utah.Gilbreath, a graduate of Legacy, pitched 18 times in relief for the Gophers as a freshman. He compiled a 1-3 record with a 5.46 earned run average with 30 strikeouts and 18 walks in 28 innings.He turned heads last summer pitching for the St. Cloud Rox in the Northwoods League. He went 5-1 with the league’s second-lowest ERA, 2.45. He fanned 53 batters in 44 innings.Kudos to Continental League swim volunteersA couple weeks ago while attending a boys basketball game, there were no rosters available for fans and I was told to look online to get rosters.It turned out to be a guessing game the rest of the contest trying to identify players.So it was real nice to get heat sheets and results printed out and stapled together by the Heritage volunteers at the Feb. 6 Continental League Swimming Championships.Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303-566-4083.
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