Legacy High boys basketball coach Jack Tarango sent his players onto the floor Monday believing he had one of the best teams in the Northwest League.
The Longhorns did what they could to confirm that belief, rolling to a 72-55 home win over Cheyenne in the first league game for both teams.
Cardon Harris led Legacy with 19 points and nine rebounds, and Zach Lane added 17 points and eight rebounds.
“We were on a mission tonight,” Tarango said. “We knew Cheyenne was one of the best teams in the league, and we wanted to send the message that we plan to contend for the title.”
The Longhorns took control early, going ahead 14-2 on a 5-foot off-balance scoop shot by David Jefferies.
Harris capped the first quarter with a 3-pointer from the right side to give Legacy a 21-12 lead.
“We talked about going out strong,” Tarango said. “And we kept a good consistency level throughout the game.”
The Longhorns scored the first seven points of the second quarter, and Lane put an exclamation point on the run with a powerful dunk with 6:07 left in the half to make it 28-12.
The Desert Shields finally awoke late in the quarter, as Bryan Laws scored five points in the final 32 seconds to help cut the deficit to 41-22 at halftime.
But the Longhorns used a 41-28 rebounding advantage to prevent second-chance points by Cheyenne. Chris Hughes, who finished with eight points, pulled down 10 rebounds to lead Legacy.
“Chris really stepped up for us on the backboards and defensively tonight,” Tarango said. “Harris also did a really good job.”
Though Cheyenne began hitting shots in the third quarter, the Longhorns took a 61-40 lead into the fourth, allowing Tarango to unload his bench.
Edward Shaw came off the bench to score six points in the fourth quarter for the Desert Shields, and he cut the deficit to 70-51 by hitting two free throws with 3:46 remaining.
But Legacy’s reserves worked the clock down the stretch, and Cheyenne was unable to get much closer.
Tarango credited Harris for creating the tempo early.
“He’s so aggressive,” the coach said. “He plays with a bunch of heart, and he gives us consistent numbers.”
Jefferies finished with eight points for the Longhorns.
Shaw led Cheyenne with 15 points and two assists. Jaquon Coleman added eight points, and Gary Stewart had eight points, four rebounds and a steal.