Riley Welch has been dreaming about playing in a game like this since he was in seventh grade. Maybe it could’ve been a little less heart-thumping for the Chatfield sophomore, but the end result was still satisfying nevertheless.
Welch came off the bench to score all of his team-high 13 points in the fourth quarter, and Chatfield held off two late-second chances from Columbine to escape with a 55-54 victory on Jan. 22 at Chatfield Senior High School.
Welch’s three-point play with 1 minute, 46 seconds put the Chargers ahead 53-52. It would be a lead they wouldn’t surrender, but just barely.
“I missed a couple of open shots early. I just couldn’t get my rhythm. Then I just one shot and got it going from there,” Welch said. “Then I hit another one, and they came out of their zone. I got through it, got some fouls called and we were able to win the game.”
But not before Columbine got not one, but two chances in the closing seconds to try and send the Chargers (12-3, 7-1 5A Jeffco League) to a second straight defeat. It wasn’t to be.
Columbine was looking for 6-foot-8 senior center Brandon Wilson in the post. Wilson, who scored a game-high 20 points, including 13 in the first half, missed a go-ahead basket early in the possession. However, the rebound got tied up with the Rebels owning the possession arrow, giving them one last chance with 4.2 seconds remaining.
Keaton Matthies, who added 17 points for the Rebels (6-9, 4-4), got the ball near the left corner on the inbound before dishing it off to Tucker Holden for a last-gasp chance.
“We told Keaton with 4 seconds left, ‘If you don’t feel good (about the shot), you still have time to put it on the floor and to make a play,’” Columbine head coach Clay Thielking said. “We told him to look for Tucker at the top of the key. He did. (The shot) was about 3 inches short. I liked the shot, but it just didn’t go.”
Columbine wanted to get Wilson open on a lob underneath on the inbound, but Chatfield knew that.
“We were just trying to make sure that we don’t let them get an easy shot down low. We had to keep an eye on their shooters. That was the game plan,” said Darius Reiter, who also scored a team-best 13 points for the Chargers. “We were trying to make that they didn’t get anything easy off a pick and roll.”
“I think they knew it was coming,” Wilson said. “We got a decent shot at the end, but I think they definitely knew that we were trying to get an easy inside shot.”
Chatfield scored the game’s first 10 points and led by that margin five times in the first half before the Rebels closed the second quarter on a 14-2 run to lead 27-25 at the intermission. Columbine was ahead 38-30 with 2:44 left in the third quarter thanks to a 9-2 surge before the Chargers rallied in the fourth.
Chatfield, which followed up the victory with a 74-56 win over Ralston Valley three days later, holds a half-game lead in conference play over the Mustangs with seven games left. The Chargers swept the season series from Ralston Valley.
Contact Michael Hicks at email@example.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.