The Chatfield Chargers need a sticky player. A glue guy that can rally the troops when things go sour and lead the charge when its time to attack.
They need someone like Green Mountain senior Brian Hunt.
“He takes over in big situations,” Chatfield coach Steve Schimpeler said. “He was the difference in the first game, and he was the difference in this game.”
When the Rams needed possession, a driving layup or big 3-pointer, Hunt was their guy Feb. 20 as they held off a late Chatfield rally for a 63-62 Class 5A Jefferson County League victory on the Chargers’ home floor.
It was the regular-season finale for both teams.
Hard to say if the loss was more painful than Chatfield’s overtime loss at Green Mountain last month – where Hunt scored seven of his 27 points in the extra frame.
This time both teams were fully loaded – the Chargers had Jordan Carter back and the Rams had a healthy Nick Sleeman – but it was Hunt who stepped up in the face of Chatfield’s physical play and size advantage.
Hunt had 25 points this time, nine in the fourth quarter, as the Rams never relinquished the lead in the final frame.
The Chargers played hard physically, Schimpeler said, but they had too many mental breakdowns, and uncharacteristically missed seven free throws. Trevor Wages led the Chargers with 15 points, Carter had 12 points and seven rebounds, and Taylor Rogers and Dean Wright had 11 points apiece.
Chatfield trailed by six in the first quarter and nine in the second quarter, before storming out in the second half with an 8-0 run to get back in the fray. The teams swapped the lead six times in the third quarter, but the Rams took a 46-40 lead into the fourth and made it stick.
“I think it was how we came out in the first half and played kind of selfish,” senior Tyler Haidaris said. “We learned from it, but I guess it’s too late.”
Said Schimpeler: “Very disappointed in our first half. It was a bunch of individual basketball.”
The Chargers whittled the deficit to 56-54 on Carter’s free throws with 2:53 remaining, but the Rams answered with a driving layup by Hunt. Chatfield cut the Rams’ lead to 58-57 on a steal, layup and free throw by Taylor Rogers, but the Rams went up 61-57 on nearly an identical sequence by Tyler Swaim.
Wages’ hook shot cut it to 61-59, the Rams turned the ball over and Wages was sent to the free-throw line with 14.3 seconds remaining. His first shot was ruled to hit the rope above the basket before it went in, so his second make only pulled the Chargers within a point.
The Rams went up by three with 13 seconds left to give Chatfield a final chance to tie. Landon Vermeer got the chance, took a hit and missed his 3-pointer. Taylor Rogers got the rebound and put the ball in but by time it rolled in there was less than a second remaining and the Rams held on.
Still, despite the loss, Chatfield earned a first-round bye in the 5A state tournament, which gets underway Feb. 26. The Chargers, seeded third in the John Casey Region, will host the winner of No. 6 Fort Collins and No. 11 Smoky Hill on Feb. 28.