It was no disgrace, but Matt Glasscock wasn’t ready to crack Arapahoe’s star-studded lineup last season, especially the spot occupied by arguably the team’s brightest star.
A 6-foot-5 junior in 2011-12, Glasscock found himself in the unenviable role of playing the same position as Shane Jensen. The 6-7 Jensen averaged 19.0 points and 7.8 rebounds and was one of three senior main cogs on a team that went 25-3 and lost an overtime heartbreaker to Chaparral in the Class 5A championship game. Jensen, who had 29 points in that game, was named first team Class 5A by the Denver Post, with Zach Kocur making second team and Tim Haas an honorable mention choice.
“You’re not going to get a lot of playing time there,’’ Arapahoe coach Dan Snyder said of Glasscock’s predicament.
Other returning members from the 2012 Warriors - notably Evan Walsh, Mitch Albyn and Thomas Trotman - were part of the regular rotation. Glasscock lettered, but only played in eight games, averaging 1.8 points in those appearances.
But this is a new year, and Glasscock has become a key contributor for the 12-3 Warriors, who are 4-2 in the Centennial League after sweeping Mullen and No. 9 Grandview last week.
“I wasn’t ready, from what (Snyder) saw, so I worked hard over the summer to be a starter,’’ Glasscock said after scoring 17 points and dominating the inside in a 82-56 rout of Mullen on Wednesday. “I worked on getting strong and having more confidence playing.’’
Glasscock, who averages about 10 points and a team-leading 5 rebounds, shared team scoring honors with 11 points in a 53-42 win over Grandview.
“Matt has some attributes that a lot of players don’t have,’’ Snyder said. “He’s got size, quickness and jumping ability. And the thing that we say about Matt - he blocked a lot of shots tonight - he not only jumps well, he jumps quickly. And there is a difference. Some kids can jump high but it takes them a while to ramp up. He’s very quick off the floor.’’
Glasscock isn’t the 3-point shooter that Jensen was (he had 25 of them last season) or some of his teammates this season are (the Warriors made 10 against Mullen and five vs. Grandview, none by Glasscock). Against Mullen, the 6-5 Walsh had three and scored 11 points, while the 6-5 Albyn hit two en route to 12 points.
Juniors Brenden Till (10 points) and Ethan Brunhhofer (9) each had a pair of 3’s and Trotman (11 points) had one against Grandview.
“We do shoot a lot of 3’s, it’s one of our strengths,’’ Snyder said. “When we shoot it well like tonight, we’re pretty tough. We shot the ball well (overall tonight). My coaches were telling me we were almost 67 percent on our 2’s.’’
Albyn, Glasscock, Trotman (the point guard) and Walsh are Arapahoe’s core of seniors. No one realistically expected the Warriors to duplicate their last two seasons, which included 25 wins each and back-to-back trips to the Final Four, or even last year’s 14-0 mark in the Centennial League.
Arapahoe started the season like gangbusters, going 8-0 before the holiday break. It lost three of its next four -- bowing to No. 2 Mountain Vista before league losses to Cherry Creek and No. 3 Eaglecrest -- before winning its last three, capped by Friday’s triumph over Grandview.
With the Centennial being one of the top two 5A leagues along with the Continental, it’s been tough for Arapahoe to build momentum.
“Our league is so tough this year, it’s extremely balanced from top to bottom,’’ Snyder said. “It’s just a lot different. Last year we went undefeated in the league and that’s the first time that’s happened in … I think it was like 10 years, somebody said. … It’s really a grind every night, and you’re fortunate if you play like we did tonight.’’
Mullen (4-11, 0-6) is feeling its way under second-year coach Ryan Cobbins, who is in his seventh year at the school. “We’re rebuilding a program, making sure the guys have the right level of buy-in and implementing our system. One thing that excites me is eight of our 10 losses are against teams that were at one point a top-10 team.’’
Eric Epps, a 6-5 senior with good offensive skills, led the Mustangs against Arapahoe with 12 points, one above his average.
“He’s one of our flashier players and I think one of the guys that a lot of people like because he carries himself well,’’ Cobbins said. “We’ve got to get him to play a little more defense, but he’s extremely exciting offensively.’’
Greg Owens and Beau Stransky added 11 points apiece for Mullen.
The Mustangs lost 74-56 to Cherokee Trail, which outscored Mullen 23-9 third quarter after leading by two at halftime.