Columbine head coach Clay Thielking, just moments after his Rebels’ 60-51 regular-season-ending loss to Chatfield, walked into the Chargers’ locker room to give them a congratulatory speech. It was a feeling that he knows quite well. After all, it wasn’t all that long ago — 2012 — that Columbine was celebrating winning a 5A Jeffco League title. This year, it’s Chatfield for a second straight time.
The Chargers, who locked up a conference championship two nights earlier at Arvada West, won a second straight game heading into the 5A state tournament, holding off host Columbine 60-51 on Feb. 21. Chatfield, which trailed just once — at 3-2 early in the game — pulled away with an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter for its second straight win and ninth in 10 games.
“It’s nice to get a couple of good wins against some good teams and to get ready for the higher level of competition and get ready for the bigger stage,” said Chatfield’s Darius Reiter, one of three Chargers in double figures with a team-high 16 points.
Andrew St. Germain added 11 points and Riley Welch scored 10 for the Chargers (19-4, 14-2 5A Jeffco League). Chatfield will be the No. 3 seed in the Ray Ball Region of the 48-team state tournament. The Chargers have a first-round bye before hosting either ThunderRidge (13-10) or Poudre (7-16) in the second round
Five players scored nine points or more for the Chargers, who extended their winning streak to four games over Columbine. None of those wins have been by more than nine points.
“When one of our main shooters, such as Darius or Andrew, aren’t hot, we have other players who kind of like to step up and take that roll,” said Chatfield’s Austin Rice, who along with Alec Wray scored nine points.
But the main key for Chatfield, Rice said, was the team’s collective rebounding against Columbine big man Brandon Wilson and perimeter defense to contain the Rebels’ 3-point shooters, particularly Keaton Matthies. Columbine finished with five 3-pointers, but only one came in the second half.
Wilson finished with a game-high 19 points for Columbine (10-13, 8-8). Tucker Holden added 11, while Matthies scored nine.
Columbine, which trailed by as much as 10 points in the first half, pulled to within 48-44 with 5 minutes left, only to go the next 3 minutes, 34 seconds without a field goal and 4:12 without a basket. By the time Reese Rumsey hit two free throws and Holden made a 3-pointer with 48.3 seconds left, Chatfield had pushed out to a 12-point cushion.
“We were where we wanted to be. You give up an offensive rebound on a free throw and a couple of turnovers led to layups, and all of the sudden you go from four points to nine down. That’s a long way to come back against a good team,” Thielking said. “I give Chatfield credit. They made us play fast, and we made a few mistakes that got a little contagious.”
Columbine qualified as the eighth seed in the Chauncey Billups Region and will host Mullen (7-15) in the first round on Feb. 26.
Contact Michael Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.