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  • Smoky Hill basketball coach Anthony Hardin ...

    John Leyba, The Denver Post

    Smoky Hill basketball coach Anthony Hardin looks on during practice on Nov. 21, 2017 at Smoky Hill High School.

  • Smoky Hill John Harge, Kenny Foster, ...

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    Smoky Hill John Harge, Kenny Foster, William Becker, Kyle Cabs and Quinten Rock during basketball practice on Nov. 21, 2017 at Smoky Hill High School.

  • Smoky Hill head coach Anthony Hardin ...

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    Smoky Hill head coach Anthony Hardin talks with John Hargeduirng basketball practice on Nov. 21, 2017 at Smoky Hill High School.

  • Smoky Hill John Harge takes a ...

    John Leyba, The Denver Post

    Smoky Hill John Harge takes a shot during basketball practice on Nov. 21, 2017 at Smoky Hill High School.

  • Smoky Hill Kyle Cabs passes during ...

    John Leyba, The Denver Post

    Smoky Hill Kyle Cabs passes during basketball practice on Nov. 21, 2017 at Smoky Hill High School.

  • Smoky Hill William Becker goes up ...

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    Smoky Hill William Becker goes up for a shot during basketball practice on Nov. 21, 2017 at Smoky Hill High School.

  • Smoky Hill Kenny Foster during basketball ...

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    Smoky Hill Kenny Foster during basketball practice on Nov. 21, 2017 at Smoky Hill High School.

  • Smoky Hill John Harge, Kenny Foster, ...

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    Smoky Hill John Harge, Kenny Foster, William Becker and Kyle Cabs during basketball practice on Nov. 21, 2017 at Smoky Hill High School.

  • Smoky Hill Quinten Rock takes a ...

    John Leyba, The Denver Post

    Smoky Hill Quinten Rock takes a shot during basketball practice on Nov. 21, 2017 at Smoky Hill High School.

  • Smoky Hill basketball coach Anthony Hardin ...

    John Leyba, The Denver Post

    Smoky Hill basketball coach Anthony Hardin looks on during practice on Nov. 21, 2017 at Smoky Hill High School.

  • Smoky Hill Quinten Rock takes a ...

    John Leyba, The Denver Post

    Smoky Hill Quinten Rock takes a shot during basketball practice on Nov. 21, 2017 at Smoky Hill High School.

  • Smoky Hill Kenny Foster takes a ...

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    Smoky Hill Kenny Foster takes a shot during basketball practice on Nov. 21, 2017 at Smoky Hill High School.

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Kenny Foster could sense the tension from his club teammates this summer. As a member of the Colorado Hawks, one of the state’s premier club basketball teams, he knew that once the club circuit came to an end, the same players he was just dishing assists to would soon be standing in his way of winning a Class 5A state title.

Everyone knows what preseason No. 1 Smoky Hill has. Everyone knows Smoky Hill is capable of bringing home its first state championship. Everyone is gunning for the Buffaloes to make sure that doesn’t happen.

“I can definitely feel a target on our back, especially from other Centennial League schools like Grandview and Overland,” Foster said. “Even though in my high school career I’ve never beaten Grandview before, I feel like Grandview wants to come after us like they’ve never beaten us. The target is that big on our back this year.”

And rightfully so, as Smoky Hill boasts a stacked lineup with talent and height rivaled by few in the state.

Foster and sophomore point guard Quinten Rock are two of 5A’s most potent scorers, while the 6-foot-8 senior tandem of power forward William Becker (Binghamton University commit) and wing John Harge bump the Buffaloes’ future Division I player count to four.

Senior strong forward Kyle Cabs rounds out the starters on a Smoky Hill squad that continued to come together following last season’s 16-9 campaign that culminated in a Sweet 16 loss to Denver East.

“We’ve played 60 or 70 games since then as a team,” Smoky Hill coach Anthony Hardin said. “That summertime experience really molded our guys to be ready for the season through local leagues and team camps against some of the state’s best.”

The Buffaloes’ six-point loss to the Angels in the playoffs last year continues to motivate them — it was a game where Smoky Hill led multiple times in the second half but couldn’t close the deal.

The defeat was emblematic of Smoky Hill’s inability to win close games down the stretch of 2016-17, when at one point the team lost five consecutive conference bouts, four of which came by single digits.

“That loss to East is the one that made us realize we have a chance to win a state title this year — we let a game slip that we know we had in the bag — and we’re not going to let that happen this year,” Foster said.

Foster assured there is no room for any me-first mentalities this winter, as the Buffaloes — hardened by last season’s ups and downs — are willing to do whatever it takes to win for each other in the hopes that approach ultimately leads to a banner being raised in the Smoky Hill gym.

“Players understand we have to make sacrifices to win games and to win the state title,” Foster said. “We’re not over here doing what we need to do to try to go to play in college — we’re all here to go to a state title. If that means each of us taking five less shots a game so that everyone else can get the touches they need, then that’s what we’re going to do.”


2017 Smoky Hill basketball 4-1-1

Coach — Anthony Hardin

Season openers — Nov. 30 at Brighton; Dec. 1 vs Hinkely

Key Games —  Great Western Shootout, Oram, Utah, Dec. 7-9; vs. No. 7 George Washington, Dec. 13; at Rangeview, Dec. 21; at No. 10 Grandview, Jan. 4; at No. 5 Overland, Jan. 10; vs. No. 8 Eaglecrest, Jan. 19; at No. 8 Eaglecrest, Feb. 14; at Cherry Creek, Feb. 16.

Last season — 16-9, 8-6; lost to Denver East 72-66 in Sweet 16

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