Don’t sleep on Chargers

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By Dan Johnson

In the span of a month, the Chatfield girls basketball team has gone from pretender to contender in Class 5A Jefferson County.

When you sit back and study the roster, the transformation really shouldn’t be surprising.

What should leave you scratching your head is how did this team, which has veteran players at nearly every position, get off to such a slow start?

Well, injuries certainly played a part.

Senior Danae Morton missed the early part of the season, still recovering from a torn ACL she suffered a year ago. Sophomore Cass Hanna was also out of the lineup for a stretch.

The Chargers (5-0 Jeffco, 8-7 overall) are now running at 100 percent, and the addition of Morton and Hanna back into the lineup not only has added more depth to the roster, it’s provided the team an invaluable boost of confidence.

The Chargers are also under the direction of a new coach. The transition from Jeff Mages to Mike Deutsch took a little while to sink in, as Deutsch sought a change in philosophy.

Predominantly a half-court team under Mages, Deutsch wanted to run - and run often. The switch was bumpy at first, but now the Chargers appear confident in where they want to go on the court. Their speed has helped them to easily negate times when the opposition attempts to press, often breaking traps with crisp passes that lead to uncontested layups.

Bottom line: Chatfield is flat-out a good basketball team.

They can hurt you from the perimeter with guards Hanna, Dilan Sutliff and Kate Kurtenbach all capable of catching fire. Add to that the strong interior presence of senior Chelsea O’Brien and junior Chrissy Armstrong, and the inside-out combination is tough for teams to stop.

Defensively, Chatfield packs a mean punch, allowing an average of 45.25 points over the past four games - all wins.

This week should tell us a lot about Chatfield. Yes, they are off to a 5-0 start in league and have beaten some good teams along the way, including Arvada West, Green Mountain and Columbine.

Things get a little tougher as preseason favorites Ralston Valley and Lakewood are both on the Chargers’ schedule this week. Should the Chargers survive (a split would be ideal), it’s very conceivable that a team no one thought of as contenders could be raising a league championship banner in a month’s time.