ARVADA — Ralston Valley’s boys basketball team emphatically ended a 2-game losing streak Jan. 14.
The Mustangs (8-5 record) were coming off a tough loss against Legend a week ago. Along with a good effort against No. 1-ranked and undefeated ThunderRidge on Jan. 12 that saw Ralston Valley leading going into the fourth quarter before losing 67-62.
Ralston Valley put that all in the rearview mirror with an impressive 74-37 home victory over rival Arvada West in front of a great crowd on a Friday night.
“Man, it’s good to see every back and have a packed gym,” Ralston Valley senior Zach Akin said. “It was loud. The energy was good. It was a good win tonight.”
It was already second non-league meeting between the Mustangs and Wildcats (6-5) this season. The two faced off in a tournament game before Winter Break with Ralston Valley taking a 61-38 win. The scheduled non-league game Friday is followed up by the Class 5A Jeffco League game between the cross-town rivals coming up in just 12 days at A-West.
It was a tight first quarter with Ralston Valley holding on to a 13-10 lead. However it was all Mustangs in the second quarter.
“It comes from our defense,” Ralston Valley coach Chris Braketa said of the 29-point second quarter for the Mustangs. “We picked up the defense and picked up the intensity a little bit. Some of our second-group guys came in there and did an awesome job. They gave us some energy and got us going a little bit.”
Ralston Valley outscored A-West 29-5 in the second quarter to grab a commanding 42-15 halftime lead. The Mustangs drained five 3-pointer in the quarter, led by a pair from Akin who finished with 17 points on the night.
“It started on defense,” Akin said. “We locked down on defense and then started hitting shots, but it all starts on defense. It felt good.”
Freshman Tanner Braketa continued his offensive tear with a game-high 21 points which included five 3-pointers. The Mustangs’ reserves were impressive with junior Josh Rillos putting in 9 points, along with sophomores Jackson Hansen and Logan Madden combining for a dozen points off the bench.
“If we can create that tempo with both groups. We do have a deep team,” Coach Braketa said. “We got Jackson back tonight for the first time since our third game. To get him going he brings a ton of energy on his own.”
Ralston Valley kept the pedal down in the third quarter. Braketa started off the quarter hitting a 3-pointer to push the Mustangs’ advantage to 30 points.
“When they (Braketa and Akin) get hot its fun to watch,” Coach Braketa said.
Akin drained his final 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter to push the lead to 70-30.
A-West juniors Jasper Padia (19 points) and Carson Nichols (10 points) led the way for the Wildcats, who saw their 2-game winning streak come to an end. A-West won’t play until Friday, Jan. 21, when it opens up conference play at home against Lakewood.
Ralston Valley has a good home test against Rangeview (8-4) on Tuesday, Jan. 18, before closing out its non-league schedule on the road against Boulder on Thursday, Jan. 20.
“We finally have everyone healthy now,” Coach Braketa said. “Hopefully we can continue climbing the mountain and keep getting better everyday. That is what we look for.”
The Mustangs actually begin league play on the road against A-West on Jan. 26.
“We feel good getting ready to go into league for sure,” Akin said.
Dennis Pleuss is the Sports Information Director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.