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D’Evelyn boys hang on for dramatic win over Mead

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By Dennis Pleuss

Jeffco Public Schools

DENVER — D’Evelyn never trailed on its home court on Saturday in the second round of the Class 4A boys basketball state tournament.

However, the No. 13-seeded Jaguars had to hold their breath to see if a last-second 3-pointer by Mead junior Jax Wilke would send the game into overtime. Wilke’s shot hit the front of the rim and bounced away. Senior Derek Edwards tipped the ball in at the buzzer for the No. 20 Mavericks, but it wasn’t enough as D’Evelyn held on for a 57-56 victory.

“Mead played a great game and fought hard,” said D’Evelyn senior Charles Dinegar after the win put the Jaguars back into the Sweet 16. “We executed when it matter most.”

Dinegar could have completely iced the game with 10 seconds to play. However, the Jaguars’ leading scoring made one-of-two free throws that gave Mead (15-10 record) one last shot to send the game into overtime.

The Mavericks defeated D’Evelyn 54-48 earlier in the year in a non-league game at Mead.

“We had to do everything a little bit better,” D’Evelyn coach Dan Zinn said of adjustments the second time around against Mead. “Tonight we did.”

Dinegar finished with 16 points, but it was senior Cole Clifton who really did the damage in the scoring column. The slashing guard poured in a game-high 23 points despite turning an ankle on a baseline jumper midway through the third quarter.

“It hurt, but our trainer Toni (Sampson) taped it up,” Clifton said. “I laced my shoes up tighter and got back out there.”

Dinegar and Clifton combined for all dozen of the Jaguars’ points in the final quarter.

“Having Charles and Cole … they are invaluable,” Zinn said. “Not only their experience, but their abilities, physicality and mental toughness. I think we’ll go as far as those two can take us. Everyone else is going to have to help out.”

D’Evelyn did get help from juniors Dan Brady and Conor Sampson. Brady had a strong shooting night with three 3-pointers on his way to 13 points. Sampson came off the bench with a breakaway layup in the first quarter and buried a key 3-pointer late in the third.

The victory gives D’Evelyn (13-11) a Sweet 16 date on the road against No. 4 Falcon on Wednesday. The Falcons (19-5) took care of their second-round opponent Fort Morgan 61-49 on Saturday night.

“I think with our record people think will overlook us,” Dinegar said. “We had the toughest strength of schedule in the (4A) state. To me, when it comes to playoffs, everyone is equal. It doesn’t matter the seed or record.”

The Jaguars might have finished fourth in 4A Jeffco, but the three teams — Golden, Evergreen and Valor Christian — ahead of D’Evelyn all grabbed top-10 seeds for the state tournament and all won Saturday night.

“All four of us are in the Sweet 16 in back-to-back years,” Dinegar said of Golden, Evergreen, Valor and D’Evelyn. “That’s awesome.”