LAKEWOOD — Green Mountain boys basketball team ended its postseason drought in a big way Wednesday night.

The Rams — No. 13-seeded in the Class 5A state tournament — took an 80-61 home victory against No. 20 Falcon in the opening round to advance to the Sweet 16. Green Mountain hadn’t won a playoff game since the 2020-21 season.

“We were definitely talking about that for sure,” Green Mountain senior Austin Beeson said of the opening round playoff losses to Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs the past two seasons.

Beeson poured in a game-high 24 points that included four 3-pointers. Sophomore Tre Gutierrez (11 points) and senior Blake Weslin (10 points) both reached double-digits as 10 different Rams scored in the 19-point win.

Falcon (17-7 record) did show early it was ready to play. The Falcons held a 20-14 lead late in the first quarter. Senior Eric Graham and junior Tyler Cox had 23 points each in the upset effort by Falcon.

Photo by Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Public Schools

“We were a little tight. Which is to be expected,” Green Mountain coach Mike Puccio said of the Rams trailing after the first quarter. “There is a lot on the line and they want to win. I think once we settled in we were great.”

Senior AJ Maher’s layup just before the end of the first quarter started a 16-0 run. Maher ended the run with a 3-pointer with 2:41 left in the second quarter to push the Rams’ lead to 30-20.

“It all started in transition,” Puccio said of the Rams outscoring Falcon 23-3 in the second quarter to grab a commanding 39-23 lead at halftime. “Once we cleared up the glass we were able to get out and run. We are tough when we run.”

Senior George Soppe — the Rams’ Swiss Army knife on the hardwood and football field — finished with 8 points and 8 rebounds, while battling in the paint in defense.

“I was confident in our team,” Soppe said of the early deficit. “We practice hard and are well-coached. We were prepared for this momentum.”

On the outside looking in, there might have been a question early if Green Mountain could advance to the Sweet 16 of the state tournament this year. The Rams had a 3-6 record heading into Winter Break.

A long football season where the Rams advanced to the 3A state semifinals had a handful of players transitioning from the gridiron to the hardwood.

“That overlap with football is tough,” Puccio said. “I think we are finally clicking on all cylinders. What a great group of guys.”

After Winter Break, the Rams went 12-2 to finished off the regular season and get into the top-16 for a first-round home playoff game.

“We have so much confidence in each other,” Beeson said. “This year we are very together. We all believe in each other and it is real.”

The Rams entered the postseason as one of the hottest teams in 5A. Green Mountain has the fourth longest winning streak at seven games, only behind No. 4-seeded Mesa Ridge (18 wins), No. 1 Northfield (16 wins) and No. 3 Windsor (15 wins).

Next up for Green Mountain will be No. 4 Mesa Ridge (22-2) in the round of 16 on Saturday, Feb. 24, in Colorado Springs. The Grizzlies took care of their first-round business with a 77-51 win over No. 29 Sand Creek on Wednesday night.

“These next two practices are going to be the most important practices of the year,” Soppe said. “We have to dial in and pretty much be perfect on Saturday. We need to play great defense and start running.”