It was a marquee matchup featuring Mountain Vista, the state’s No. 1 team in the CHSAANow.com Class 5A poll, going against No. 2 Chaparral on Jan. 15 in the Wolverines gym.The game, however, …
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It was a marquee matchup featuring Mountain Vista, the state’s No. 1 team in the CHSAANow.com Class 5A poll, going against No. 2 Chaparral on Jan. 15 in the Wolverines gym.The game, however, didn’t live up to its advance billing.
Sure, the atmosphere was great. The bleachers were bursting with spectators and people and cheerleaders were standing along the walls at both ends of the gym. Student sections were boisterous and the halftime paper airplane contest was entertaining but will probably have to be discontinued, since security personnel had to stay alert to make sure that a paper aircraft would not attempt a crash landing on the court during second-half action.
And,the expected chant of overrated finally was hollered during the fourth quarter and it came from the Chaparral students as the Wolverines led wire-to-wire and posted a 66-48 victory.
Chap, playing without senior starter Bryce Matthews, who was sidelined because of concussion protocol, jumped ahead and took control against Vista, which didn’t shoot well, especially in the first half. The closest the previously unbeaten Golden Eagles could come was seven points early in the third quarter and finished shooting just 31 percent for the game.
This showdown game lacked entertainment value but at least the overflow crowd got to see a thrilling junior varsity game, which went two overtimes and could have gone three but Christian Carew got a shot to fall as the buzzer sounded at the end of the second OT to give Chap a 79-77 win.
So the varsity contest started 70 minutes late and most of the suspense exited with the JV players.
“Obviously it was a big game and ultimately rankings are rankings and you have to play the games,” said Chap coach Tellus Truesdale. “It was fun because we got to play in front of a packed crowd and the intensity of the game kind of gets like the playoffs are going to be. For us, one of our goals is to win the conference (Continental League), and if nothing else it puts us one step closer.”
Mountain Vista coach Bob Wood admitted his team’s execution was AWOL.
“We didn’t execute very well offensively,” said Wood. “We took a lot of contested hard shots and when you do that you don’t make very many. We had 16 points at halftime and when you average 60 some points a game, it’s pretty hard to beat a good team.
“It was nice to be No. 1 but it all comes down to the end of the season, the RPI and all that stuff. It’s a nice honor to have for the little while we had it. It made the game fun, people wanted to see it and it would have been nice to play a little better.”
Chap was ranked No. 1 for two weeks before losing to Lewis-Palmer, the top-ranked 4A team, on Jan. 3. Vista climbed into the top spot after the Wolverines’ loss for two weeks and it sure appears now that the Wolverines will be No. 1 again when CHSAANow.com releases its next poll on Jan. 21.
Chaparral was 21-5 last season before losing to eventual state champion Grandview in the Great 8, and the Wolverines were expected to be a title contender this season with 67.1 points a game returning. However, 6-foot-6 All-State forward Ronnie DeGray III left Chaparral to play his senior year at Woodstock Academy in Connecticut.
The Wolverines might not match up as well against some teams without DeGray in the lineup, but the players have pulled together and are playing like contenders.
“We loved Ronnie and it hurt when he left,” said Truesdale. “Just losing your friend and a buddy you get to play with and see every day for these guys was probably the hardest part, but he’s gone, we wish him luck and play with what we have.
“People ask me, do you have somebody to replace Ronnie DeGray? You can’t replace Ronnie DeGray, but collectively you have to do what you can do. That’s what fun to see, is everybody step up. Obviously we would be better with him (DeGray), but we can be a good team without him.”
Koby Sanders, a 6-foot junior, leads the team with a 20.2 scoring average. Matthews is averaging 11 points and 5.9 rebounds a game while Tanner Giles is scoring 10.9 points and handing out 3.5 assist a game. Joseph Dalton, a 6-5 senior, and 6-6 junior Dalton Waldron have helped, along with Matthews give Chap a strong rebounding presence.
“Ronnie was a big loss,” said senior guard Tizell Lewis who adds five points a game to the Chap offense. “But our point guard Koby Sanders stepped in and is averaging more and Tanner Giles struggled at the beginning but now he is stepping up and Big Red (Waldron) in the middle is stepping up. Our bench players are playing well. It’s a team effort.”
Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303-566-4083.
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