LAKEWOOD - Down 17 points at halftime to a good Arvada West team, the Lakewood Tigers could have packed it in and called it a night.
Instead, the Tigers chipped away and chipped away at the Wildcats big lead and eventually came all the way back to defeat A-West 66-62 Friday at Lakewood High School.
Now losers of five straight games, the Wildcats were desperate for a victory. And for the first two quarters of the game it looked like they were on their way to snapping their skid.
Behind A-West sophomore Thomas Neff’s hot-hand, the Wildcats shot over 75 percent in the first half. With Neff’s 21 total points, and with the help of three other double figures scorers, A-West looked like the team that won eight straight games earlier this season.
However, the young Wildcats, like they have done throughout their now five game losing streak, fell asleep for a quarter and allowed the Tigers back into the contest.
How Lakewood came back was the most impressive. The Tigers went into halftime with their heads down because of the big deficit.
But during halftime Lakewood coach Daryl Johnson didn’t yell at his players, or stress that they needed to go on a 17-0 run to start the third quarter.
“Our coaches and players didn’t panic. We simply said let’s just cut that deficit to 10 and then see what happens,” Johnson said.
Lakewood made a couple adjustments defensively and all of the sudden everything changed.
“We got some good rebounds and some turnovers, and we started to get out and run better, but when they buy into the defensive adjustments then it works,” Johnson said.
Then, the lights went out for A-West. After scoring 25 points in the first quarter and 21 more in the second, they generated only seven points in the third quarter.
That allowed the Tigers to get their own offense going, cutting the Wildcats lead down to nine points going into the fourth quarter.
“There was a momentum big time change in the second half. They made a couple adjustments to slow us down and it worked. We need to play four quarters and not let stuff like this happen,” A-West senior Mike Porter said.
Reeling, A-West could only muster nine fourth quarter points.
Now rolling, Lakewood scored 21 fourth quarter points and came all the way back for an important 5A Jeffco victory.
The victory was Lakewood’s fifth in their last six games. The Tigers (9-7, 6-3) will host Ralston Valley Friday at 7 p.m., in what will be another crucial league meeting.
A-West (9-7, 4-5), now soul searching and desperate to snap their losing streak, will host Bear Creek Friday at 7 p.m.