COLORADO SPRINGS – Tevin Riehl had a relatively simple plan to help Mesa Ridge boys basketball get its biggest win of the year.

Get him the ball.

With four seconds left and the game tied, the No. 4 Grizzlies had possession under their basket and the ball went into Riehl’s hands. He drove down the baseline and put up a little bunny that touched nothing but net, ending one of the best basketball games the state will see all season.

Mesa Ridge defended its home court against Class 5A’s top-ranked team and walked away with a 60-58 win. Riehl’s final shot, the game winner, counted for his game-high 22nd point of the night.

“I just knew I wanted the ball,” Riehl said. “I wanted a bucket.”

He got it and it helped the Grizzlies (10-2 overall, 3-0 5A Colorado Springs Metro League) remind everyone that they are indeed still the defending state champions. In the early stages of the season, Palmer has certainly walked the walk when it comes to looking like the top team in the state.

But the law of being the best always survives the test of time.

To be the man, you gotta beat the man.

The Grizzlies know exactly what the Terrors (13-2, 2-1) are capable of on the basketball court. And for that reason, this win might actually mean more to the champs than the team that is trying to hunt them down.

“Right now, I’m telling you, I think Palmer is the team to beat,” Mesa Ridge coach Joel Babbitt said. “With that size and that length, they’re incredible. They’re a scary team and it’d be nice to see both of us there at the end.”

(Dan Mohrmann/

Palmer looked scary early. J’Twane Mike and Ayden Yunker sparked a 10-0 run to put the Terrors up 12-3 early and they even got out of the first quarter with an eight-point lead. The Grizzlies cut it down to six at halftime and kept Palmer’s offense more limited. After five players scored for the Terrors in the first quarter, only Walker Asp and Mike scored in the second quarter.

The game got flipped on its head in the third when Tanner Widic, Riehl and Kaya Harris each knocked down 3-pointers to take the Grizzlies from down six to up three in the blink of an eye.

Their biggest problem in the second half was a bit of foul trouble and although Widic eventually fouled out of the game, the Grizzlies had to tread carefully defensively as the game tightened up.

“We needed to stay disciplined,” Bryce Riehl said. “But I’m glad for the guys who stepped up when we were in foul trouble. They played great for us.”

Bryce, the younger Riehl, kickstarted the offense in the fourth quarter with a long 3-pointer. The teams battled back and forth, trading blows for final eight minutes. With 52 seconds remaining and the game tied, the Grizzlies held for the final shot and attacked the basket only to have Zanner Iwanski’s shot blocked out of bounds with 4.5 seconds left.

And that’s when Tevin Riehl all but demanded the ball so he could sink the game winner.

“Isn’t it great coaching to just get the ball to the best player and get out of the way,” Babbitt said.

It worked in Mesa Ridge’s favor tonight. But there is still a long way to go in the season. And remaining on the calendar is a road game against the Terrors. And who knows? There might even be a third clash somewhere down the line.