“Automatic” was the exact word to chant.
The Green Mountain fans knew too well that when Brian Hunt touched the ball, it would most likely make its way into the basket.
That’s why the crowd at Jan. 25’s game at Dakota Ridge High School chanted that word louder and louder as the junior racked up 26 points against Dakota Ridge. Hunt’s contribution, which included four 3-pointers, led the Rams to a 59-43 Class 5A Jefferson County League boys basketball victory.
“We knew number three (Hunt) would shoot the ball, but we just didn’t keep track of him on the court,” said Dakota Ridge senior Andy McDonnell. “We let him keep shooting and he took advantage.”
The Eagles had a 12-10 lead at the end of the first quarter, but Green Mountain’s defense stifled the Eagles in the second quarter. Dakota Ridge managed only four points, while Hunt had 12 of his 26 points in the second quarter alone. By halftime, the Rams had a 27-16 lead.
In the third quarter, Green Mountain jumped to a quick 32-16 lead after Nick Sleeman, a 6-foot-6 junior, found his place under the basket. The Rams’ players kept dishing him the ball and he scored all seven of his points in that period.
“They were definitely bigger than us, but we’ve found that all year because we’re a little small, height wise,” McDonnell said. “That doesn’t really stop us. We really had some players step up late in the game.”
Dakota Ridge kept up with Green Mountain in the third by scoring 10 points while the Rams scored just 13. In the fourth, the Eagles came within nine, 42-33, when Cameron Pritchett made a nice putback.
However, as Hunt’s three-point shooting cooled off, another Rams’ player was heating up. Anthony Nicholson, a 6-foot-2 junior, knocked down two 3-pointers and finished the quarter with 10 points.
“They just kept hitting those threes and that was killing us,” said Pritchett, who led the Eagles in scoring with 14 points. “We just couldn’t answer. I think we needed to refocus and get back to fundamentals.”
McDonnell had seven of his 10 points in the fourth quarter for the Eagles, but by the time he chipped in his final two points of the game, the Rams had a 56-40 lead. Dakota Ridge sent Green Mountain to the foul line three times in the last two minutes in an attempt to regain possession, but the Rams’ lead was just too big.
Austin Meldrum sank a three in the final seconds for the Eagles’ final points, but it was to the chagrin of the Green Mountain crowd who had gone from chanting, “Automatic” to “It’s all over.”
“League games are always more intense than other games,” Pritchett said. “It got out of hand a couple of times, but those kinds of games really get the crowd going.”