ARVADA — Ralston Valley’s boys basketball team got the chance to attempt to win the Ralston Roundup Tournament for the sixth time Dec. 17, after press deadline. “The two years before COVID we …
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ARVADA — Ralston Valley’s boys basketball team got the chance to attempt to win the Ralston Roundup Tournament for the sixth time Dec. 17, after press deadline.
“The two years before COVID we won it,” Ralston Valley senior Zach Akin said of the Ralston Roundup that is in its 14th year. “We are trying to hit the three-peat. We are looking forward to tomorrow.”
The Mustangs scored a runaway victory Dec. 16 against the Mountain Range Mustangs in the first championship semifinal at Ralston Valley High School. Ralston Valley defeated Mountain Range 78-41 to advance to the tournament title game scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17, at Ralston Valley High School.
Ralston Valley (5-3 record) faces Doherty (6-1) in the championship game in the annual tournament, which wasn’t played last year because of COVID.
“It’s nice to have three Jeffco teams (Columbine, Pomona and Ralston Valley) in it and a team from Colorado Springs,” Ralston Valley coach Chris Braketa said. “It’s a fun tournament and good for the community. We had some business sponsors who reached out to support the tournament.”
Ralston Valley extended its winning streak to four games with the win over Mountain Range on Thursday night. The Mustangs actually trailed Mountain Range 21-20 after the first quarter. Mountain Range hit five 3-pointers in the opening eight minutes.
“We definitely thought we were a better defense team then what we showed in the first quarter,” Akin said about the Mustangs giving up 21 points in the first quarter. “The second half was definitely better.”
Mountain Range was held to just 20 points through the final three quarters, including scoring just four points in the fourth quarter.
“That is our emphasis — defense,” Coach Braketa said. “Get up and pressure. We are small so we can’t bang with teams. We need to pressure teams.”
Ralston Valley will also put pressure on teams with its outside shooting ability. The Mustangs drained nine 3-pointers against Mountain Range. Akin and freshman Tanner Braketa led the way with a trio of 3-pointers each.
“Probably our strongest suit is we can shoot the ball,” Akin said. “Coming out of halftime hitting a few shots is big for us. It gets us going for sure.”
Ralston Valley went on a handful of 7-0 and 8-0 runs to extend the lead in the second and third quarters. Tanner Braketa — Coach Braketa’s son — continued to fill up the scoresheet with a game-high 17 points.
The freshman guard is averaging 17 points per game while already making 21 3-pointers through eight games.
“He is working hard,” Coach Braketa said of his son. “He is trusting his teammates and working his butt off. This is a good group. A pretty close knit group.”
Akin is right behind Braketa in scoring. Senior Zach Friedman — three-sport athlete — is nearly averaging a double-double in points and rebounds despite being 6-foot-1.
Ralston Valley had good balance with senior Beau Wilken (9 points), junior Jason Thome (10 points) and sophomore Logan Madden (8 points) doing their share to keep the winning streak alive.
“Everyone is more excited to go to practice. There is more energy in practice coming off the wins,” Akin said. “Feeling good going into the league season after break.”
Dennis Pleuss is the Sports Information Director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.
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