The Kelly Walsh Boys Basketball team is coming off their second state title in three years. A common theme during their recent, sustained success is simple: defense.
Defense wins championships is a cliche saying in sports, but it's something that rings true for the Kelly Walsh Trojans.
"It was an ugly (state title) game. I mean 60-36 which is high scoring for my teams. But it was a typical ugly defensive battle that favored us," said Head Coach Randy Roden
"We predicate our team as playing defense, and we thought in order for us to win that game we were going to have to get stops, and we were able to do that," said Senior Davion McAdam.
"I think we came in the game nine consecutive (games) under 50 (points), so we just relied on our defensive philosophies and came out on top," said Senior Ross Padilla.
Kelly Walsh has now won 2 state titles in the past 3 years, but before their recent success, their last championship came back in 1981. The culture changed for the green and white when they brought on Head Coach Randy Roden in 2011. The Trojans were coming off a season ranked dead last in defense. But since the 2012 campaign, Kelly Walsh has finished first in points allowed every year in all of 4A. They knew coming into this season defense is their mantra.
"Definitely defense. I think for us, getting stops and securing it with the rebound is going to be big for us. Just playing with passion and heart and taking that side of the floor seriously will help us a lot," said McAdam at the beginning of the season.
"Defense is huge. We're working a lot on defense. Closeouts. We're just working a lot on defense cause that's a big part of the game," said Senior Brooks Browning at the beginning of the season.
"Defensively, we've been doing everything that we've done in the past. We look really good on that end right now," said Roden at the beginning of the season.
The Trojans won it all by their stout defense in 2017. But all of their rotation players graduated that year, so 2018 became rebuild mode.
"We're not experienced and we're young and we're physically outmatched by a lot of teams, but we've got something to work with. I think by the end of the year, our goal will be to make the state tournament, and that's a feasible goal for this group," said Roden last year.
Even with a brand new group of guys, they still were the best defense in 4A, and made it to the state semis.
One year later, and this scrappy group of Trojans climbed the mountain and are once again state champions.
"They believe in that end, and they believe in each other. A very special group got a very special reward tonight," said Roden.
"This is what we dream for. After we lost last year, we just wanted to get our revenge, and we did it. No better way to go out, and I love our team and my brothers and my coaches, and it's the best way to go out," said Padilla.
"They just gelled and worked together and were just so single focused," said Roden.
"This is the best group of guys I've ever been with my entire life, and I wouldn't want to trade it for the world. There's nobody else I'd rather be with," said McAdam.
"It was a dream season for me. I'll be hard pressed to find another team I've had that's done the things that this team did," said Roden.