WHEAT RIDGE — In the long run, Tuesday’s non-league boys basketball game will likely benefit Resurrection Christian and Wheat Ridge.
Rez Christian, No. 10 in the CHSAANow.com Class 3A boys poll this week, managed a 70-59 victory in front of a strong Farmers’ crowd at Wheat Ridge High School.
“It’s important for our kids to get this environment,” Rez Christian coach Bruce Dick said. “Our kids don’t always see this environment and that’s good for them.”
The game brought out a good turnout with several former administrators, coaches and graduates. Wheat Ridge was honoring longtime athletic trainer Dan Martinez who after 27 years at Wheat Ridge will be moving on to Chatfield High School after winter break.
Wheat Ridge coach Tommy Dowd also took a moment before the game to welcome Dick back to Jeffco for at least one night. Dick spent 24 years at Green Mountain High School before stints at Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins and his current eight-year run at Rez Christian.
“He (Dick) has been a really good friend of my. We’ve helped each other since I started coaching,” Dowd said. “He is a good coach.”
“No matter where he is at his team knows how to shoot and make free throws. I keep asking him for that formula, but he won’t give it to me,” Dowd joked.
The Cougars (5-3 record) never trailed Tuesday night. Rez Christian jumped out to a double-digit lead by midway in the second quarter. The sophomore tandem of Reece Johnson and Jackson Romero combined for 38 points.
“We lost a lot of good players from last year’s team and a really good underclassman on a move,” Dick said of his team that went 23-1 last season before being upset in the Sweet 16 of the 3A state tournament. “We started three sophomores and a freshman tonight. We put them in this kind of situation and they responded. I’m very happy with how they played.”
Wheat Ridge (4-4) closed the gap to 50-46 early in the fourth quarter, but a 10-1 run in the middle of the final quarter sealed the victory for the Cougars.
“Tommy Dowd is one of the better (coaches) around,” said Dick, who moved into fourth place on the all-time wins list last year and sits at 627 coaching victories. “It’s a blessing for us to come in here and get a win.”
The Farmers will look a bit different after the winter break. Dowd expects junior Zeke Van Tuyl back from injury and junior transfer Julian Clausen will be eligible to play a few games into Class 4A Jeffco League play.
Seniors Naishon Thomas (18 points) and Max Warner (13 points), along with sophomore Alex Morales (12 points) finished in double-digits for the Farmers in the loss.
“It’s what we needed,” Thomas said. “We had a good environment and competition.”
The Farmers jump in Class 4A Jeffco League play Jan. 4 at home against Green Mountain before a Saturday night game Jan. 6 at Golden, ranked No. 2 in the latest CHSAANow.com 4A boys basketball poll.
“It’s going to give us a good preview of some of the teams we’ll see in our league. They are built the same way,” Dowd said. “We just spotted them too many early. We made our run, but we just don’t start out well.”
The conference schedule will be a tough grind for Wheat Ridge in the deep 4A Jeffco League. Defending state champion Valor Christian, along with Golden, Evergreen and D’Evelyn are also expected to challenge for the conference title. Also, Littleton (7-1) is off to a tremendous start.
Resurrection Christian, No. 10 in the Class 3A rankings, returns from winter break with a road game at Coal Ridge on Jan. 6 before starting its Class 3A Patriot League schedule.