By Will Petersen
For the Courier
It was redemption. A gym silencer, a knockout blow and a game-winning shot all wrapped into one.
Chatfield’s Brenden Mann hit a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left in a tied game against Dakota Ridge to propel the Chargers to a 65-62 win over the Eagles on Feb. 14.
Mann shot two air balls earlier in the second half and the home crowd, littered with Dakota Ridge students, let him hear it the rest of the way. That is until he buried the eventual game-winner good for the last laugh.
“I think that’s so much fun having the crowds chanting at you,” Mann said. “I love that. It’s a blast.”
The play to set up Mann’s game-winner wasn’t actually executed properly, according to Chargers head coach Steve Schimpeler. Regardless, after a breakdown in the defense, Mann found himself wide open in the corner and hit the shot.
“It says everything about him. How tough he is and how much he believes in himself. He doesn’t get rattled,” Schimpeler said of Mann.
Dakota Ridge immediately called timeout and set up a play where senior Austin Genthe got a look at a 3-pointer to tie the game, but his attempt hit off the front of the rim and the buzzer sounded just a couple of seconds later.
“In those type of situations it’s very challenging to get a good look,” Dakota Ridge head coach Curi Yutzy said. “We did get a decent look the shot just didn’t fall. It happens.”
The back-and-forth affair produced a good final 30 seconds, but this one was entertaining throughout. Dakota Ridge jumped out to a 21-13 lead early in the second quarter before Chatfield ripped off a 20-6 run to go up 33-27. The Chargers led by four at halftime and two points after three quarters.
The win moved Chatfield to 14-0 (20-1 overall) in the 5A Jeffco League and all but assured it the regular-season crown. The loss dropped Dakota Ridge to a .500 mark in league at 7-7 (10-11 overall).
Chatfield, once again, produced very balanced scoring. Mann led the Chargers with 17 points. Michael Hampson scored 14, Anthony Shoeboot added 11 and Darius Reiter chipped in nine.
“We have lots of weapons. In big games someone different has stepped up every single time. It’s a huge advantage.” Schimpeler said.
For Dakota Ridge, it was another heartbreaking loss, something unfortunately the Eagles have grown accustomed to at this point. It was the team’s third straight loss by three or fewer points.
“It’s just one small thing we don’t do. It’s one possession in one game that causes a breakdown. We’re one play away right now,” Yutzy said.
Dakota Ridge senior Elijah Davis led all scorers with 23 points, including the jumper that tied the game at 62 before Mann hit the winning shot.
“We know we’re right there. It hurts every time, but we have to keep that positive attitude. We’re so close. It’s just a matter of time,” Davis said.