GOLDEN — Green Mountain boys basketball team atoned for its lone conference loss in a big way Feb. 4.
The Rams — No. 6 in the CHSAANow.com Class 4A rankings — took a solid 60-51 road victory against Golden. The Demons (10-7, 6-4 in 4A Jeffco) had handed Green Mountain a 10-point loss back on Jan. 12 on the Rams’ home court.
“They’re tough and this atmosphere is great,” said Green Mountain coach Mike Puccio, who had a brief stint as an assistant coach at Golden. “I coached here in 2005 with John Anderson. This place is different. It’s awesome.”
Green Mountain (14-2, 9-1) returned the favor extending its winning streak to seven games while remaining atop of the 4A Jeffco League standings with five conference match-ups remaining.
“It’s awesome,” Green Mountain senior Corbin Jantzer said of getting payback against the Demons. “Especially to do it on the road on their court.”
With a strong vocal Green Mountain student section directly behind the Rams’ bench, Green Mountain’s offense got clicking in the fourth quarter scoring 25 points in the final eight minutes.
Jantzer (17 points) and fellow seniors Cayson Pearson (12 points) and Cooper Francy (11 points) led the charge in the final quarter combining for 22 points in the final quarter.
“We were dialed in tonight. I thought both teams played great,” Puccio said. “I felt like it was going to come down to whoever had the run late just like last time.”
Golden used a strong fourth quarter and made 5-of-12 3-pointers in the win last month at Green Mountain. The Rams’ perimeter defense was on point the second time around holding the Demons to 1-for-12 from 3-point range.
“I thought both teams played really good defense,” Golden coach Lou Vullo said. “I think they just made more shots than we did. We missed a lot around the basket.”
Senior James Lacey led the Demons with 14 points while making Golden’s lone 3-pointer. Demons’ leading scorer — Richie Pruett — was held to just nine points with Jantzer getting the assignment to shutdown one of the top players in 4A Jeffco.
“He (Pruett) is a great player for sure. He was our main focus defensively coming in,” Jantzer said. “My job was try to take him out of it. I hope I did a good job.”
Green Mountain’s biggest led came in the fourth quarter when it pushed the lead to 50-35 midway through the fourth quarter. The Demons cut the lead to 50-43 with less than 2 minutes to play. Pearson hit a big bucket with 1:50 left in the game to get the Rams back on track.
The Rams made eight free throws in the final minute to seal the victory. Green Mountain had a big rebounding advantage of the boards while holding the Demons under 20 points in each quarter.
“We tell them every night that shots will go and shot will miss,” Puccio said. “At the end of the day how we guard guys and the glass (rebounding) is what we can control.”
Green Mountain does control its own destiny when it comes to winning the league title. The Rams finish the final two weeks of the regular season with conference games against Evergreen, D’Evelyn, Standley Lake, Alameda and Wheat Ridge.
The tallest order on paper looks like the home game against D’Evelyn on Friday, Feb. 11. The Jaguars (14-4, 10-2) are just a game in the loss column behind the Rams.
“It’s never looking that far forward to be honest,” Puccio said of the huge game next Friday night at home against D’Evelyn. “We talk about staying humble and staying hungry. Hanging a league banner would be great, but we want to be playing our best basketball in February.”
Vullo has the same mentality with his Demons heading into the upcoming postseason.
“This is a great experience rolling downhill toward the playoffs,” Vullo said. “It was a great atmosphere with two great teams playing great defense. We just fell a little short.”
Dennis Pleuss is the Sports Information Director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.