ARVADA — Ralston Valley didn’t want any drama when it came to winning the boys basketball Class 5A Jeffco League title.
“It’s awesome,” Ralston Valley senior Zach Akin said Feb. 16 on the court moments after a 71-37 home win against Columbine. “Going into this game we knew if we would lose a ton of things could go wrong. It is definitely good to get this one.”
The Mustangs (16-6, 7-0 in 5A Jeffco) won their seventh straight game and officially wrapped up the league crown with one conference game remaining. With head-to-head victories over Chatfield (13-8, 6-1), Dakota Ridge (14-8, 6-1) and Columbine (13-9, 4-3) nobody can catch the Mustangs in the race for the league championship.
“For the kids it’s everything. For me I just want to put them in a position to do it,” Ralston Valley coach Chris Braketa said of the Mustangs winning the league title. “They did have goals at the beginning of the year and league was one of them. I’m just really happy for the guys.”
Ralston Valley completed a clean sweep of the 5A Jeffco League with a 72-34 home victory over Bear Creek on Feb. 18. Ralston Valley learned on Sunday that it would be the No. 15 seed for the 48-team state tournament and receive a first-round bye.
The Mustangs will host the winner of No. 47 Fountain-Fort Carson and No. 18 Dakota Ridge on Saturday, Feb. 26.
The Mustangs used their signature defense and some sharp 3-point shooting to win going away against Columbine. Ralston Valley held its sixth opponent of the season under 40 points.
“I think the defense set the tempo from the beginning,” Coach Braketa said. “We had a quiet locker room before the game, but the energy as soon as the got out here was great.”
Columbine was held to 19 points in the first half with Ralston Valley holding a 42-19 lead at halftime. It was more of the same in the second half as the Mustangs stretched out their lead to 30 points on a driving layup by senior Beau Wilken with 3:26 left in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Jackson Hansen had his best game of the season for the Mustangs.
Hansen had a bone break in his ankle early in the season and missed nine games during his month of recovery. The sophomore guard poured in a season-high in points (23) and rebounds (seven) against the Rebels.
“He really is still kind of getting his legs back underneath him,” Coach Braketa said. “He really makes our team go. He came on really strong last year late as a freshman.”
Freshman Tanner Braketa poured in 17 points while hitting a 3-pointer in every quarter. The Mustangs went 10-for-18 from 3-point range. Akin had 14 points and junior Jason Thome added 10 points for the Mustangs.
“I think we have really meshed together well these last seven games,” Hansen said of the winning streak. “It’s a good time to start meshing going into the playoffs.”
Columbine senior Wes Jones and junior Ty Afraimi had eight points each to lead the Rebels, who finish out their regular season with a 68-62 loss at Dakota Ridge. The Rebels are the No. 28 seed for the state tournament and will host Prairie View on Wednesday, Feb. 23.
Dennis Pleuss is the Sports Information Director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.