It isn’t a stretch — more like a bad pun — to say that Golden’s boys basketball exorcised some Demons last Friday night.
Golden closed strong with a big fourth quarter to snap a five-game losing streak to Valor Christian, taking down the defending state champions 76-61 at Golden High School. The victory forged a tie at the top of the Jeffco League standings, with both teams now sitting at 9-1 in league, with four league games remaining for both teams. That includes visits from both programs to Evergreen the final week of the regular season to face a Cougars team that is 8-2 in league and lost to Valor Christian and Golden by a combined six points in January.
Adam Thistlewood scored a game-high 28 points against Valor on 9-of-15 shooting, and Joe Madsen added 12 points and 12 rebounds in the victory, which marked seven in a row for the Demons. It was the first loss of 2018 for Valor Christian, which had won 10 consecutive games.
Madsen had a season-high 19 points on 8-for-8 shooting in a 73-58 victory over Wheat Ridge last Wednesday. Four players scored in double figures for Golden, with Ilya Bubulkin adding 13 points.
Elsewhere last week, Lewis-Palmer continues to look more like the team that started the season with 13 consecutive victories. The Rangers, who dropped back-to-back games two weeks ago, shut down Vista Ridge 56-26 last Wednesday before snapping Falcon’s nine-game winning streak last Friday with an 82-67 victory.
The Rangers (17-2, 9-1 in Pikes Peak League) have a two-game lead on the Falcons in league play with four games remaining. Lewis-Palmer exploded in the first quarter against Falcon, racing out to a 20-7 advantage, getting a game-high 26 points from Matthew Ragsdale in the victory. Joel Scott and Carter Kreischer added 18 points each for the Rangers; Noah Martinez and Reece Warren combined for 47 points for Falcon.
Pueblo South upped its winning streak to 11 games with victories over Pueblo East (79-56), Pueblo Central (49-41) and 5A Pine Creek (63-54). David Caporici had 20 points against East in his best game since scoring 30 points in the season opener.
Widefield is on an eight-game winning streak and created a tie at the top of the Colorado Springs Metro standings with a big 65-58 victory over Mesa Ridge, followed by a 54-51 overtime victory over Elizabeth. Those two victories avenged earlier league losses for the Gladiators (14-2, 9-2), who still have a crucial game against The Classical Academy (12-6, 9-3) on Feb. 13.
Tre Pierre led three players in double figures with 19 points and 10 rebounds against Mesa Ridge and TJ Davis added 18 points. Deven Nelson scored 20 points for the Grizzlies (12-6, 9-2), who were coming off a five-point loss to TCA two days earlier.
The Titans got a big week from Jared Belcher, who scored 21 points in the victory over Mesa Ridge and followed it up with a huge 39-point effort against Canon City.
Finally, Erie enjoyed a big week by muddling up the Tri-Valley standings even more. The Tigers upended Mead 72-65 behind 27 points from Jadon Lucero and 22 points and 15 rebounds from Jeffrey Farineau. Luke Loy scored 20 points three nights later in a 64-62 victory over a Roosevelt team that had knocked off both Holy Family and Windsor recently, with Farineau adding 15 points and 12 boards.
With the regular season down to the final two weeks, a number of leagues are coming down to the wire and still up for grabs. Here is a look at some of the upcoming week’s top games in the 4A classification that could help clear some of that up:
The Tri-Valley has the tightest race at this point, with Windsor, Holy Family and Mead each tied for the league lead at 8-2. The Wizards (13-6) have the chance to take care of business this week when they travel to Holy Family (12-7) on Tuesday night and host Mead (12-7) on Friday.
Windsor had its four-game winning streak snapped by Roosevelt last week. The team defeated Holy Family back on Jan. 12 but lost to Mead four days later despite a furious fourth-quarter rally. The team’s fortunes have ridden with seniors Kirk Relford and Tyler McGinnis.
Holy Family, which visits Mead on Feb. 13, has won three in a row since a loss to Roosevelt. The Tigers went to the line only seven times in the previous meeting with Windsor, something that will need to improve this time around.
As for Mead, which draws Windsor on Friday, it’s all about balance. Three players average more than nine points a game, led by junior Max Wilke (14.6 points/8.1 rebounds). The Mavericks will have to bounce back on defense after allowing a season-high 72 points to Erie in a loss last Tuesday.
The game of the week in 4A is Thursday night in Longmont, when the Northern League will all but be decided as Silver Creek (15-3, 7-2) heads to Longmont (16-1, 10-0). But the Raptors also visit Thompson Valley (13-5, 6-3) on Tuesday in another must-win game for both teams.
Silver Creek dropped both of its games to those two teams in the first go-round through league play, but fell by only two points to the Trojans in a 66-64 loss. Trent Dykema (24.1 points per game) had his worst two-game shooting stretch of the season against Thompson Valley and Longmont, going a combined 10-for-33. He has shot at least 50 percent in five of the past six games though.
Thompson Valley, which faces Longmont again on Feb. 14, limited Silver Creek to a season-low 43 points on Jan. 11, and the Raptors shot just 25 percent from the field. That isn’t likely to happen again, so the Eagles will need Justin Wiersema (19.8 ppg) to have another big shooting night.
Longmont, winners of 15 in a row, is the hottest team in 4A right now. The Trojans are an overtime loss to Golden from being undefeated, and senior Luke Johnson paces the offense at 19.4 points a game.
Another three-team race that has yet to be decided will be a little clearer in a few days. The 4A/3A Colorado 7 league race has a pair of big games this week, as a Conifer (9-10, 5-2) team still alive for a league title goes to Skyview (13-6, 6-1) on Tuesday night.
Skyview is the only team in the Colorado 7 with an overall winning record. The Wolverines have won seven in a row, but just barely edged Conifer 57-56 on Jan. 19, which snapped a two-game skid. Deyvon Butler scored points that night, and Isaac Valdez added 14 points and eight assists, but a poor second-half nearly cost Skyview.
Conifer saw its title hopes take a big hit on Jan. 26 with a loss to Fort Morgan, but a victory over the Wolverines and a little help could make things interesting. Mark Studer leads Conifer with 17 points and 9.3 rebounds a game.
Speaking of Fort Morgan (8-11, 6-1), the Mustangs host Skyview on Friday night. A victory would all but wrap up the league title, provided the team takes care of business next week. Luis Garcia and Trey McBride combined for 26 points and 18 rebounds in Fort Morgan’s 47-39 victory over Skyview back on Jan. 16.
Even after a 10-game winning streak in January, Valor Christian’s loss to Golden last week doesn’t give the Eagles much wiggle room in Jeffco. That’s why the Eagles (12-7, 9-1) need to take care of business Wednesday night at home against D’Evelyn ahead of next week’s game at Evergreen.
Junior Hunter Shkapich has become the team’s leading scorer at 14.2 points a game, but senior Jeremy Randle isn’t far behind at 13.8. Sophomore Roger Rosengarten is the team’s leading rebounder at nearly six a game, and he averages just shy of 10 points.
D’Evelyn (10-9, 5-5) has struggled the second time through league with the bigger hitters, but the Valor game offers a chance for a signature win. Senior Charles Dinegar averages 22.3 points and 9.6 rebounds, and the Jags will need big games from him and Cole Clifton (15.1 points) to have a chance.
Glenwood Springs is closing in on the Western Slope League crown, but the Demons need to handle their business this week with games against Steamboat Springs on Thursday and Battle Mountain on Friday.
The Demons (15-4, 8-0) had an eight-game winning streak snapped Jan. 27 with a 14-point non-league loss at Central of Grand Junction. But Glenwood bounced back with a season-high 92 points in a rout of Eagle Valley, with five players scoring in double figures.
The Demons only defeated Steamboat Springs (11-8, 6-2) by seven points in the first meeting. The Sailors shot only 39 percent that night, and saw their hopes dim even more last Friday in a 63-52 loss to Battle Mountain (11-8, 6-3).
The last 4A league to touch on is the South Central, where Pueblo South (16-2, 7-0) has a two-game lead with four games remaining. The Colts host Pueblo County on Tuesday night, and can clinch the league crown with a victory there and again Friday over Pueblo West (14-5, 4-2) at the Pueblo Events Center.
Three players are scoring in double figures for South, paced by Marcell Barbee’s 18.5 points. The Colts limited West to only 31 points on 38 percent shooting in the first meeting Jan. 23.
The Cyclones have dropped three of their past five games and could use a strong finish to he regular season.